How Can You Restrict What Your Child Watches on YouTube?
YouTube boasts over two billion monthly users, along with a wide selection of inappropriate content. Mothers regularly report appalling YouTube videos that terrify their kids — like Huggy Wuggy, a disturbing blue bear with fang-like teeth.[*]
Unfortunately, YouTube’s content filters are not infallible. Mature content that is far too violent or sexual has been known to bypass YouTube’s carefully crafted algorithm. As 80% of parents with children below the age of 11 acknowledge that their kids are active viewers, chances are they’re encountering these videos, too.[*]
Restricted Mode first made an appearance in 2010 to tame YouTube’s younger audience. But more options have been added to YouTube’s parental controls over the years.
💡 Related: The 10 Best Parental Control App for iPhone (2023) →
4 Ways To Set Up Parental Controls on YouTube
Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how to set parental controls, so your kids can enjoy a safe YouTube experience.
1. Turn on Restricted Mode
YouTube Restricted Mode is an optional setting that helps screen adult content. When enabled, YouTube filters out mature content on that specific device or browser.
There are two ways to use Restricted Mode:
- If your kid shares your YouTube account, enable Restricted Mode on your child’s device without impacting what you see on your device.
- If your kids have their own accounts, enable Restricted Mode on all their devices to block potentially lewd content.
Libraries, universities, and other public institutions often use Restricted Mode to control the content on their computers. It’s also an excellent option for children and young adults who are no longer eligible for supervised accounts.
📌 Note: Currently, children over the age of 13 in the United States are not eligible for supervised accounts. They're of legal age to manage their own accounts.
To turn on Restricted Mode on your kids’ mobile devices:
- Open the YouTube app.
- Tap on your profile picture in the top right corner.
- Tap Settings and then tap General.
- Toggle Restricted Mode to the on position.
To turn on Restricted Mode on your kids' computers:
- Go to youtube.com.
- Click on your profile icon in the top right corner.
- Click on Restricted Mode: Off.
- Toggle Activate Restricted Mode to the on position.
You can also lock Restricted Mode into place by navigating to the same area and clicking on Lock Restricted Mode on this browser. You’ll have to log in to your Google account to confirm you’re making this change. The same steps apply as you unlock Restricted Mode in the future.
To turn on Restricted Mode on a smart TV:
- Open the YouTube app on your smart TV.
- Go to the sidebar menu and scroll down to Settings.
- Navigate to Restricted mode and click the On button.
No filter is 100% accurate, as stated in the disclaimer. The good news is that this is a great first step to prevent children from accessing inappropriate videos.
Note: Restricted Mode is separate from age-restricted content. Age-restricted content is a setting that creators must select when uploading videos that are only suitable for viewers over the age of 18.
💡 Related: How To See What Your Kids Are Doing Online →
2. Set up supervised accounts
Supervised accounts are geared toward children under the age of 13 in the United States (or the relevant age in your country). This restriction allows parents to enforce content settings that limit the videos and music their children can access.
- You’ll need to create a Google account for your child before you begin. Children cannot manage their own accounts if their date of birth reflects that they are under 13 years of age.
- Once you enter your child’s date of birth, a prompt will ask you to connect to a supervising account within 14 days to prevent deactivation.
- To link your account, click My parent is here, then log in with your Google account. You can set parental controls for apps like Google Play, Chrome, YouTube, or other Android mobile apps.
Several of these parental controls are most useful for Android devices, Chromebooks, or other Google devices in general. However, supervised accounts are still effective safeguards on Apple devices — iPhones or iPads — and on Safari.
Supervised accounts are ideal for children and tweens
This is because there are three levels of content settings available:
- Explore: Lets children view content appropriate for kids over 9 years old.
- Explore More: Lets children view content appropriate for kids over 13 years old.
- Most of YouTube: Lets children view most YouTube videos except those marked for an 18+ audience or deemed inappropriate for viewers when using supervised accounts.
This account type also curbs personalized ads, meaning ads shown won’t be based on profile information from a child’s account. Instead, YouTube will only show ads relevant to the content a child is viewing.
Supervised accounts also restrict several YouTube features, including access to:
- Live streams (only with the Explore setting)
- Community posts
- Creating a channel and uploading videos
- In-app purchases
- Other YouTube apps
To update your kid’s supervised account settings, head to families.google.com or download the Family Link parental control app.
📚 Related: How To Block Websites on iPhones and iPads [4 Ways] →
3. Sign up for YouTube Kids
A third option is to use YouTube Kids. The YouTube Kids app facilitates a supervised experience that curates fun, educational, and kid-friendly content.
YouTube Kids is a separate app that you download on your child’s device so that they can watch kid-friendly videos from creators like Blippi, Dave and Ava, Cocomelon, and other approved content.
Like supervised accounts, you’ll need to start by creating a Google account for your child that you then link to your own. Next, access their privileges and settings via the Family Link app or at families.google.com. These settings comprise:
- Content level settings (more on this shortly)
- Turning search capabilities on and off
- Giving or revoking access to YouTube Kids altogether
Once you’ve connected their Google account to yours, you can download the YouTube Kids app on their device(s) and log in with their account.
Like supervised accounts, YouTube Kids also offers three different content levels. However, these are also geared toward younger kids. You can choose between:
- Preschool: Educational content meant for children under the age of four.
- Younger: Age-appropriate content curated for children between the ages of 5 and 8.
- Older: Age-gated content for children between the ages of 9 and 12.
Again, Google and YouTube are forthcoming about how their filters don’t always exclude adult content. Inappropriate videos for a selected age range may occasionally slip through.
Report any content you deem inappropriate, or turn off the search feature so that your children can only view vetted content.
With YouTube Kids, there is one last content level that gives your child access only to handpicked and personally-approved content: Approved content only.
To turn this on, follow these steps:
- Open the YouTube Kids app on your child’s device.
- Tap the lock icon at the bottom corner of the app.
- Complete the multiplication problem, or insert a custom passcode if you have one set.
- Then tap Settings and select your child’s profile.
- Tap Edit Settings in the Content Settings box.
- Click on the Approved Content Only option.
- Tap Add or Remove Videos in the Content Settings box.
- Add collections, channels, or individual videos that you approve of before tapping Done.
4. Enable SafeSearch and dismiss content
One of the last options is to use Google’s SafeSearch. This is a tool that many people (not just parents) use to filter out explicit search results.
Turn on this setting for your kids so that their Google and YouTube search results will be in safety mode, ensuring no sexually explicit content appears.
To turn SafeSearch on in your web browser:
- Go to families.google.com.
- Select your child’s profile.
- Click Filters on Google Search.
- Toggle SafeSearch to the on position.
To turn SafeSearch on from your mobile device:
- Open the Family Link app.
- Tap View next to your child’s name.
- Tap Choose settings.
- Tap Google Search.
- Turn on SafeSearch.
A second option is to remove or dismiss content that appears on your child’s YouTube feed. You’ll want to complete this manual process every few months to ensure that your child’s recommended videos are up to date.
Follow these steps to dismiss content:
- Open your child’s YouTube or YouTube Kids app.
- Scroll through the home screen to see which videos are recommended.
- Tap the More icon (three vertical dots) next to any video that you want to dismiss.
- Tap Not interested to remove the video from your recommendations.
- Optional: Tap Tell us why to choose between the options I’ve already watched the video or I don’t like the video.
You can also tap Don’t recommend channel in that same menu if you want to exclude that channel from future recommendations.
This process is helpful if your child's search settings are completely turned off. You can further dictate the content they’re allowed to see by scrubbing specific videos from their feed, so those videos won’t accidentally pop up.
And as your children grow, reset your Not interested feedback to allow new suggestions. Head to the My Activity tab in their account settings, click on Other Google activity, and then click on Delete under YouTube Not interested feedback.
📚 Related: How To Block Websites on Android Devices (7 Methods) →
You Can’t Look Over Their Shoulders All the Time. Aura Can Help
The goal with parental controls isn’t to overly police what children are watching. You just want to ensure they only see content that is appropriate for their ages, and avoid potentially traumatic or damaging experiences.
Start by having conversations with your children about how there are websites, videos, and other content on the internet that are simply not age-appropriate. Discuss how they can view this content when they grow older.
While YouTube parental controls are a great start for one app, Aura can help you with universal content filters and screen time limits. No matter what website, social media site, or app your children are accessing, they’ll only be able to view the content you approve.
- Customize what children view online: Easily select apps, games, and websites to limit or restrict altogether. Aura’s parental controls work with Apple iPhones and iPads (iOS 13 or later) as well as Android mobile devices (Android 9.0 or later).
- Set time limits for apps and websites: Create different limits for apps, categories of websites, and a daily time limit for every child in your household.
- Stop in-app messages: If apps like Snapchat or Instagram are blocked using Aura’s content filters, no messages will be sent or received from these apps.
- Stay safe from malware, spyware, ransomware, and more: Aura's antivirus software automatically detects and isolates such threats to secure your devices.
- Browse safely with a built-in virtual private network (VPN): Protect your data from malicious websites especially when you (or your children) use public Wi-Fi. Aura also blocks your family from entering phishing sites that can steal information.