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Bark Guide to YouTube Parental Controls: Statistics and Safety Concerns

by | Jan 5, 2018 | Internet Safety Tips

It may come as no surprise to you that kids 13 and up watch 12.1 hours of videos per week on YouTube. You may even use YouTube yourself to watch news stories or find nostalgic videos. However, your kids probably use the platform to consume a different kind of content than you do. Whether they can’t watch enough DIY slime videos or Fortnite tutorials are their thing, you might wonder whether they’re spending too much time watching videos. You may also be concerned about what kinds of videos they’re watching.

YouTube can be a wonderful place full of educational and motivational videos. But the fact that it’s an open platform with limited internal monitoring means that anyone can upload almost anything, and the comment sections can get nasty very quickly. Unfortunately, YouTube has no way to thoroughly monitor what your kids post or the comments they receive. Read on to learn what this means and how you can start monitoring with the right tool.

What Kind of Parental Controls Does YouTube Have?

Did you know YouTube has parental controls you can put in place to help limit the inappropriate videos your kids may come across? They offer a Restricted Mode that you can turn on or off. The feature allows you to filter out explicit search results you might not want your kids to see. If you’d like some more guidance, this short informational video will walk you through the steps for setting up Restricted Mode.

While it can be a helpful tool, YouTube’s Restricted Mode does have some limitations. On computers, it works at the browser level. This means you have to set up the restrictions on each browser — Safari, Chrome, Firefox, or whatever else your child can access. While you can lock the restriction into place on the computer, you can’t lock the restriction into place on phones or tablets, so your child may be able to make changes.

Explicit Cartoons and Toy Advertising

Many people try to circumvent the rules on YouTube by sneaking in content that isn’t appropriate for children. One good example is a complaint about cartoons being posted on YouTube with overly adult content disguised as being kid-friendly. The BBC reported this to explain how much of a minefield YouTube can be.

Even YouTube Kids, which was created to curb parental concerns, still has problems with objectionable content. Some of its popular “unboxing videos” are nothing but infomercials intended to target kids. In some cases, inappropriate content for kids can come through advertising rather than directly through the video content.

Monitoring What Your Kids Post on YouTube

If you have a creative kid at home, you may want to give them the freedom to create and post their own videos on YouTube. Letting them express themselves with video can be fun and beneficial when they’re creating something positive to nurture their imaginations or future career interests.

But you may want to keep an eye on what they’re posting. Are they making videos with overly personal information you don’t want them making public? Are they producing content with slightly mature themes or inappropriate language? Maybe they even post dozens of videos per week, and you have no way to know what they posted until discovering them later.

The Dangers of the YouTube Comment Section

The comment section on YouTube videos can also be a place where kids may encounter inappropriate content — including cyberbullying, explicit language, hate speech, and more. The platform has taken measures to hide toxic comments, but the problem still exists.

Perhaps most worrying is the fact that if your child is posting their own videos, they may directly receive messages from a sexual predator looking to initiate a relationship with them. They may even offer to buy your child items on their Amazon wish list in exchange for explicit images of themselves. That’s why using a monitoring tool to help you keep an eye on any potentially concerning messages is important for every family.

How Bark Can Help Manage YouTube

With Bark’s screen time management and web filtering features, you can help protect your child as they use YouTube on their iOS or Android devices. Simply enable YouTube Safe Search from your settings — this will require that they always use “Restricted Viewing” mode. When this feature is turned on, your child is less likely to be exposed to potentially explicit videos, even if they try to search for explicit content.

Our monitoring tool can also help keep your kid safe by alerting you to potential issues (like cyberbullying or sexual content) in the videos your child posts, comments made on those videos, and new videos your kid receives in their subscription box. Plus, Bark can monitor YouTube views and searches (even in Incognito mode) on connected Android devices and computers with our Chrome extension installed.

Whether your kid just loves watching YouTube videos or they’re a full-blown content creator, using a couple of tools can help you make their experience on the platform a safe one.

About Bark

Bark is a comprehensive online safety solution that empowers families to monitor content, manage screen time, and filter websites to help protect their kids online. Our mission is to give parents and guardians the tools they need to raise kids in the digital age.

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