In a previous post I wrote about trying to keep kids safe on social networking sites, to the extent that is possible. But what about YouTube? Seems like my 10-year old and her friends like to search on YouTube for songs that they like. Can parents prevent their kids from seeing “R” rated content on YouTube? Well, sort of.
YouTube has a feature call Safety Mode. They describe it here as a setting “that helps screen out potentially objectionable content that you may prefer not to see or don’t want others in your family to stumble across while enjoying YouTube.” It’s not a bad idea to set this on all browsers and computers that your kids might use. It is not foolproof – it won’t filter out everything – but it is one extra layer of protection.
To turn on Safety Mode:
1. Scroll down to the bottom of any YouTube page and look for the words “Safety Mode: Off.” Look really, really carefully because they use the smallest possible type, almost like they don’t way you to find it!
2. Click the word “Off” to turn view the choices. Click “On” to turn the feature on.
3. If you have a YouTube account, sign in and then you can “lock” this feature. Even if you don’t have have a YouTube account, you can still turn Safety Mode on; the only difference is that someone else using that computer could turn it off.
More information is available here on YouTube Help.
Note that there is no Safety Mode for YouTube Mobile. If your kids go on your iPhone or their own iPod touches and search for things on the YouTube app, they will see it all. (Although you can enable Restrictions to prevent them from using the YouTube app altogether).
Does Safety Mode Work?
I decided to put Safety Mode to the test. First I searched for Lady Gaga’s song “Telephone” in a web browser where I had not enabled Safety Mode. The fourth video in the search results listing was a video titled “Warning: mild nudity” (not a Lady Gaga video at all, just someone’s self-made video of some sort. I didn’t click on it to find out!). Then I tried the same search in a web browser where I had turned the feature on. The “nudity” video did NOT appear in the search results at all. Also at the top of the page I saw the message “Some results have been removed because Safety Mode is enabled”.
From the same screen I saw a link to a video called “Justin Bieber Dies”. So, thinking like a tween, I clicked on it to see what it was. I got the following screen:
Will Safety Mode protect your kids against everything on YouTube you may not want them to see? No. Will it help a little bit? Yes.