YouTube Safety Tips for Families

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May 16, 2022

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This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!

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Table of Contents

YouTube is a social network that parents and educators can help keep students safe when using online. Screen time addiction is one of the biggest concerns about YouTube. 

So, we asked 9 experts to share their best tips for parents to help students who want to use YouTube responsibly.

1. Use a timer

Kristen Bolig

Kristen Bolig, Security Nerd

It’s happened to all of us - we go to YouTube to watch just one particular video only to reemerge into reality hours later, having fallen down a rabbit hole of DIY, story time, and surprise videos.

Something that has really helped me manage the amount of time I spend on YouTube is setting time limits for myself. I will simply take out my phone, set a timer for an hour or less (depending on how much time I have or want to spend watching videos), and once that timer goes off, I’m done for the day. 

It’s a simple method to use a timer, but it’s effective, and it teaches you self-discipline and how to manage your time better.

2. Use YouTube settings to better manage recommendations

Mo Mulla

Mo Mulla, Founder, Parental Questions

Some tips for staying focused on the content you want to see on YouTube are:

  • Unsubscribe from channels that are constantly recommending videos that are not relevant to you 
  • Customize your recommendations by selecting “I don't want to see this” or “Not interested” when a video is recommended
  • Use the “Watch Later” feature to save videos for later viewing 

Additionally, parents can use YouTube's “Restricted Mode” to filter out content that may not be appropriate for their children. Finally, remember that you can always control your time spent on YouTube by setting a daily limit in the “Time watched” settings.

For young children (ages 0-8) parents should be around when they're watching YouTube and other streaming media because  they may not be able to judge how long they've been watching for themselves. 

Around age 9 or 10, kids can start to regulate their own screen time a bit more, but it's still important for parents to keep an eye on how much time their kids are spending on YouTube and other streaming media. 

The best thing to do for teenagers is to set limits on screen time in general, help keep them accountable consistently, and let them know that they can always come to you if they need help regulating their YouTube or other streaming media usage.

3. Think safety first

Jaya Aiyar

Jaya Aiyar, Founder & CEO, Créatif

With billions of videos and users on YouTube, it is vital to put safety first, especially for your children.

Here are some safety features parents could apply:

  • Activate “Restricted mode” on the YouTube app to block inappropriate content 
  • Set up parental controls using the YouTube KIDS app for young kids under 13 years old 
  • Customize content allowed for preschool or elementary-aged kids
  • Turn the search bar off so kids can’t search for videos independently

In my experience, I’ve been anxious about the effects of screen time on my children. Managing a child’s screen time is challenging. Setting rules with your children is a must, such as no screen time or gadgets during mealtime and outings. 

4. Create a family Google account for YouTube access 

William Rivers

William Rivers, Senior Strong

One of the best ways to help students be safe on YouTube is to create a Google account for the family where the parent can keep an eye on what videos their kids are watching. 

Switching to the “Restrictive Mode” on YouTube is another important move. Doing this can help prevent your child from seeing any inappropriate content. Most of all, creating a friendly approach with your child is very important.

5. Establish ground rules

David Crusoe, Boys & Girls Clubs of America

Dave Crusoe headshot
David Crusoe

Responsible use of YouTube and other media starts by establishing ground rules. Young people can be asked:

  • Which content is appropriate?
  • Which content is inappropriate?
  • What are the penalties for accessing inappropriate content?

Adults, including teachers and parents, can facilitate the conversation and post rules and penalties in a visible location.

Learners are much more likely to follow rules of their own creation than they are externally-imposed rules they don't understand.

6. Be respectful of your audience interactions

Aaron Ho headshot
Aaron Ho

Aaron Ho, Mobile Reviews Eh

I have discovered over the years that producing intelligent content results in intelligent comments and feedback. If you are respectful of your audience interactions, they will respect you back.

There will always be those individuals who “troll” your videos and the best way to deal with “trolls” is to ignore them (don’t feed the “trolls”). YouTube provides simple ways to block out individuals who are not respectful.

7. Make learning fun and easy

Crystal Olivarria headshot
Crystal Olivarria

Crystal Olivarria, Better Decisions Matter

YouTube is a great tool because it can make learning fun and easy. A lot of credible producers combine entertainment with academic concepts. Therefore videos, especially animated cartoons, can teach concepts in a visual way teachers can not.

For example, if your child is struggling in English class to understand when to properly use a comma then your child would benefit from watching the 5-minute video: “Comma Story –Terisa Folaron.”

8. Keep track of your student’s followers

Hasan Ali headshot
Hasan Ali

Hasan Ali, Air Tutors

One thing parents should keep track of is who their student is connected to.

A lot of times with social media apps you can get random followers and for students of lower ages, this can get very creepy very quickly. So, we always encourage parents to be on top of their student's followers and/or ask them to keep their account private.

9. Utilize free educational videos

Gene Caballero headshot
Gene Caballero

Gene Caballero, GreenPal

When I needed to learn how to use Photoshop for my startup, I went straight to YouTube.

YouTube has hundreds of hours of videos that can be instrumental to learning...and they are all free.

Also, when it came time for me to learn piano, YouTube was there again. I was overwhelmed with the number of videos available that would get me started.

Both are great use cases of how anyone, not just students, can use YouTube responsibly.

More resources about YouTube tips for families

Navigating YouTube for Parents, Students, & Teachers (VIP Course)

Watch & listen: Tips from a 15-Year Old About Roblox, YouTube, Instagram, Spotify, & Screen Time

Conclusion

Having limits and using YouTube as a positive influence in your family can make this service a benefit for your students.

What tips do you have to help keep students safe and have fun on YouTube? Comment below!


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