[Updated from original post in May 2012]
There 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:
- YouTube website – mobile website in the Safari browser or another web browser
- 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.
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.
- Set web content filtering in Restriction settings to block YouTube in the Safari browser. (This is for devices running iOS7 or above)
- Restrict Safari completely, but install a web-safe browser, allowing your child web access but not YouTube.
- 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:
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:
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.
(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.
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:
- Restrict by rating
- 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.