How to Restrict YouTube in iPod touch and iPad

[Updated from original post in May 2012]

No more native YouTube appThere used to be a YouTube app on every Apple device.  The app icon looked like an old-style TV – remember that?  Then Apple dropped their native YouTube app in 2012 with the introduction of iOS 6.  In a way that was bad for parents, because in the previous version it was easy enough to block YouTube using Restriction settings.  In devices that run iOS 6 or higher (which is most of them these days), it is a bit more complicated.

 

There are (at least) two ways to access YouTube on an iPod touch, iPad or iPhone:

  1. YouTube website – mobile website in the Safari browser or another web browser
  2. YouTube app – Google’s own YouTube app, which must be downloaded from the app store.

If you don’t want your child accessing YouTube, then you must restrict both of these options.

Here’s how.

Step One: Restrict the YouTube website

There are a few ways to restrict the YouTube website.  You may need to try out each one to find out which works best for you.

  1. Set web content filtering in Restriction settings to block YouTube in the Safari browser.  (This is for devices running iOS7 or above)
  2. Restrict Safari completely, but install a web-safe browser, allowing your child web access but not YouTube.
  3. Restrict Safari completely, giving your child absolutely no web access.

Set web content filtering in Restriction settings

The simplest solution is to limit adult content within the Safari browser.  Instructions for that are located here, scroll down to the heading “Block adult web content in iOS7 on iPods, iPads and iPhones.”

Make sure to add the YouTube web address to the list of “Never allow”.  When adding a website you want to block, try different URL’s (web addresses) if you can’t get it to work using “www”.  For example, to block YouTube on a mobile device, the address you want to block is “m.youtube.com”.  Note the “m” instead of “www”.  Many websites use “m” for the mobile version of their site.  I usually add both as shown here:

Use the 'Limit Adult Content' setting to restrict YouTube web site

The added benefit of this method, is that YouTube will now be blocked within other apps.  Other apps, from Facebook to Kik, allow for the sharing and displaying of YouTube videos directly within the app.  With this restriction in place, your child or teen would not be able to view any YouTube videos shared within these apps.  For example, here is the result when clicking a YouTube video link from the Twitter app:

YouTube is blocked in other apps when web content filtering is enabled

Restrict Safari completely and install a web-safe browser

Another option is to use a kid-safe browser, and then block Safari completely.  Some of the kid-safe browsers will automatically block YouTube.  If not, many will allow you to add it to a list of sites to block.

1. First, install a kid-safe browser – research the ones I review here to find one that will allow you to block YouTube but allow other sites you approve.

2. From the child’s iPod or iPad, go to Settings > General > Restrictions.

General Settings in iPod Touch  Restriction Settings in iPod touch

(these screenshots are from an iPhone but it should look about the same).

3.  If you have already set up restrictions, you’ll be prompted for the passcode.  If not, choose Enable Restrictions and enter a passcode.  Be sure to use a 4-digit passcode that you will remember and your kids will not guess.

Safari is restricted under Restriction settings

4. Set Safari to the Off position.Here, Safari is restricted along with the installing/deleting apps and making in-app purchases.

This is a good option for devices running iOS6, or if you are looking for the additional parental control features of these browsers.

Restrict Safari completely, giving your child absolutely no web access.

The third option is to block Safari along with all other web browsers.  This means your child will not be able to access the web.  Maybe that’s fine with you, but for older children/tweens, it might defeat the purpose of using the device in the first place!  But if you want to go this route, simply follow the instructions above for blocking Safari, making sure to also restrict installing and deleting apps. This will prevent your child from being able to install another browser without your permission.

 

Step Two: Prevent your child from downloading the YouTube app

If your child’s device is set up with your Apple ID, then of course you have more control over which apps are downloaded.  You’ll need you to enter the password so you have more control over which apps get added to the device.  This is the recommended method for younger kids.

For those kids who use their own Apple ID or otherwise have the ability to download apps, you can use Restriction settings to prevent the download of YouTube app. Your choices are:

  1. Restrict by rating
  2. Restrict ability to download apps

Restrict downloading apps rated 17+ in the app store (used to be 12+)

The YouTube app is rated 12+ 17+ in the app store.  **An app update on May 1, 2015 changed the rating from 12+ to 18+.  I’m not sure what prompted this change, and haven’t read anything about it online. **

So, you can follow the instructions here to restrict the ability to download apps by rating.

Restrict ability to download all apps

You can also use Restriction settings to prevent your child from downloading any apps, including YouTube.  If you do this, you will then need to be involved each time they want a new app (which might be often, so think about this!).  You’ll have to remove restrictions settings, download the app, and then set the restrictions again.

First make sure YouTube app has been deleted if you find it was on their device.  Then:

1. From the child’s iPod or iPad, go to Settings > General > Restrictions.

2. If you have already set up restrictions, you’ll be prompted for the passcode.  If not, choose Enable Restrictions and enter a passcode.  Be sure to use a 4-digit passcode that you will remember and your kids will not guess.

3. Set Installing Apps and Deleting Apps into the OFF position. (This will prevent your child from adding Apps to the device.  If you install a kid safe browser, the restriction for Deleting apps will prevent them from deleting the app you install).

 

That’s it! Just be sure to remember that 4-digit restriction passcode…if you forget, you will have to reset your device back to the defaults. And as always, talk with your kids about what they’re doing online – parental controls and restrictions are only one side of the equation.

 

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Comments

  1. Sandra says

    I wanted to know if I can sort my Grandaughter’s iPod touch so that she could use FaceTime but not have access to Safari, she is only 7.

    • Jean says

      Yes you should be able to do that as FaceTime doesn’t need Safari to work. Just set safari to OFF and FaceTime to ON in the restriction settings.

  2. says

    Unfortunately there is a work-around that my daughter found. If she gets an email with a link to a youtube video, even with the steps illustrated here she can click on the link in the email and watch the youtube video. I believe the same thing is true for any website.
    Didn’t take long for her to realize that she could either receive emails with links from friends, or simply email herself links and go around parental control restrictions.
    Any suggestions to block that? (other than removing any access to email…)

    • Jean says

      I tested this out and with Safari blocked, the link to a YouTube video sent in an e-mail did not go anywhere. So I’m not really sure what kind of work-around your daughter has discovered! I’d double-check to make sure Safari is blocked in Restrictions.

  3. L.P. says

    Hi Jean,
    I am trying to disable youtube on my daughters ipod touch. We just bought it in January 2013 so it’s newer but I can’t see the YouTube choice on the “restrictions” menu like your screenshot. I really want to take this off since my quick test of the app shows access to a LOT of stuff I don’t want her to see. I’ve got all other settings on the highest restrictions and stuff is still showing up in youtube search. HELP?

    • Jean says

      Hi L.P.,
      Well the problem is that screenshot is from the previous version of ioS. In the newer version which is what you probably have (ioS 6), there is no more native YouTube app – it isn’t automatically included like it used to be so therefore no separate restriction for it. However there is a free YouTube app that can be downloaded, so what you’d want to do is delete it and then restrict purchasing of new apps. Also restrict Safari as YouTube can be accessed through the browser as well. Hope this helps. (Good reminder to update this article and screenshot!)

      • LP says

        Thanks for your quick reply Jean… I tried to delete the app, but when it jiggles, there is no X to actually do that. Other ideas to get that thing off there?

  4. LP says

    Hi again, I figured it out… I had to update my ioS to 6.1.2 and then it allowed me to delete youtube. Thanks! L

  5. Jen says

    My daughter loves Youtube and the animal videos on it. She is 8 years old. Is there a way to restrict WHAT is viewed with YouTube on her iPod Touch? I can’t figure out a way to just restrict the videos that she watches … ? Any ideas, thoughts or advice? Thanks!

    • Jean says

      If she is viewing YouTube through the Safari browser, there is no “safe search” option. But now that Apple doesn’t have its own YouTube app, Google released one. The Apple version had an icon that looked like a TV. The new version from Google is the YouTube logo. With that app, it can be set to Safe Search filtering “Strict”. I think I may need to update my YouTube articles! Another option is to use a Kid-safe browser that support YouTube “safe” videos while filtering out the rest…I think mobicip.com has an option but not sure if its in their free version.

      • Dawn says

        I set the safe search filtering to ‘Strict’ in the YouTube app but can’t someone just go and change that right back? I cannot see a way to ‘lock’ that choice in the apps settings.
        Thank you!

      • Dawn says

        And upon testing the restrictions, they work in the app (I guess that’s obvious!) but she can still view anything if going through Safari. It looks like I will have to disable by adding m.youtube.com as you spelled out in your article. :(
        I really wish there was a solid restriction on YouTube! They use it in school etc so it really causes problems when you deny access!

      • Jean says

        Hi Dawn,
        Yes it is tricky! It’s too bad as there is plenty of educational material on YouTube, but so many other distractions.

  6. says

    please help!!! I forgot my 4-digit restriction passcode and i don’t know what to do now. I looked on my Childs ipod to see if i could reset it and i cant find nothing

    • Jean says

      Hi yasmin, unfortunately I do not believe there is a way to recover a restrictions password if you’ve forgotten it. I’ve looked into this a few times and the advice from Apple was to reset the iPod. That means you have to re-load any apps, music, etc.

  7. Pratik says

    Hi Jean,

    1. Is there any way to check what are the you tube video browsed and watched ? I guess in Safari we can check browsing history but not sure if you tube also have browsing history?
    2. When we turn the “strict” option ON, does it block coarse language as well or only the display content?
    2. is there any way to tether iPad with iPhone or iPad with iPad to check what kids are watching on iPad when they are with friends in different room ?

    Thanks,
    Pratik

    • Jean says

      Hi Pratik,
      I’m guessing you are referring to the YouTube app on an iPad? There is a history of watched videos but I’ve noticed you will only see that if the user is logged into a YouTube account in the app. When not logged in to the user account, I have not seen a way to view a history of watched videos. Turning on the “Strict” option will not likely block all videos with coarse language or that you deem inappropriate, because the filtering doesn’t really consider the audio within the video, it is mostly determined by the title and text associated with the videos. As for the 3rd question, I’m not sure there is a way to do that, unless both devices are logged into YouTube using the same YouTube account and then you might be able to see what’s being watched.

  8. michael says

    Hi
    I’d like to restrict some YouTube content

    “Grand Theft Auto” or GTA videos in particular

    Is there anyway of blocking content that has a particular title or group of letters in it?

    Thanks

    • Jean says

      Hi michael,
      I don’t know of a way to block specific videos. Maybe another reader knows of a way? I suspect you’d have to do so through another program, plugin or even through the router settings.

  9. Gazzyp says

    Many sites have mobile versions and these have to be entered manually in the restricted websites section.
    Settings >general > restrictions > websites

    In the never allow part enter

    m.youtube.com
    And
    http://www.youtube.com

    This will restrict access to youtube

    • Kevin Velasco says

      You may also want to ad https://youtube.com. If a student or child knows that using the “secure” version will get them around most server based filters, then you will need to add the “https://” to your DO NOT ALLOW list.

    • Jean says

      Hi Michael,
      The YouTube app is an app that is downloaded from the App store; it no longer is a standard app that ships with the device. So to delete it completely you would need to uninstall it as you would any other app.

  10. Sarah says

    Thank you very much for this info Jean! I believed I had proper restrictions in place – no it took a few attempts to get rid of it all properly.

    So now Thanks to your help I have deleted YouTube and Safari. It’s a pity as there are good things on YouTube, however it’s just not worth it. I’m disgusted that YouTube don’t have a proper ratings system so parents can properly monitor things! It seems crazy to me.

  11. Kevin Velasco says

    Thank you so much for this. I am a teacher and I have been trying to figure out a way to disable YouTube on my classroom iPads. I have nothing against the site, but it is hard to keep my students on task with the tablets when they can simply pull up YouTube and watch videos. I thought I had tried every possible combination to no avail, but your suggested method has worked. This simple thing has improved the productivity in my classroom by 30%. Now I can give them an assignment on their tablets and the assignment actually gets done. Thank you!

    • Jean says

      Hi Kevin – Wow, that’s great to hear! I’m glad to here this helped increase productivity in your classroom! All the resources and educational apps available on tablets are great but it is SO hard to stay focused when distractions are a click away.

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