YouTube Parent Guide 2021

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YouTube Parent Guide 2021

March 11, 2021
Green Zone

Parents and Teachers: This app is listed in the Green Zone.
We believe this app is a STARTING POINT for your student, but that you must monitor your student on every app they are on. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at

Gray Zone

Parents and Teachers: Please note this app is listed in the Gray Zone.
Parents should participate in these apps with students to keep them safe.
Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at

Red Zone

Parents and Teachers: This app is listed in the Red Zone. We believe this app is not safe for students to use without adult supervision. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at

Dangerous Social media challenges

Parents and Teachers: This app is listed as a Dangerous Social Media Challenge. Knowing about social media challenges before your teen does can help you keep them safe before an incident occurs. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at

Table of Contents

It’s the app where you can learn to play guitar, watch funny viral videos, watch other people play popular video games, and perhaps, accidentally see something inappropriate. Creators (aka YouTubers) add new videos to YouTube each day, at an astonishing rate, making it challenging to keep unsuitable content away from kids.

It can be a fantastic source of education and entertainment, but the team wants parents to know the potential dangers and how to keep your families safer on YouTube.

YouTube by the Numbers:

YouTube App Screen shot "Discover News, sports gaminig & music"

  • People spend 1 billion hours each day watching videos on YouTube (website and app)
  • Users upload 500 hours of video every single minute
  • Over a billion people listen to music on YouTube every month (Source)

Who is using YouTube?

  • 74% of adults in the U.S. use YouTube
  • 80% of parents with children 11 and under say their kids watch YouTube
  • YouTube is the world’s second-most visited website after (Source)

What are the YouTube apps?

  • The YouTube apps let users watch, listen, and share videos and music through five main apps:
  • YouTube
  • YouTube Music
  • YouTube Kids
  • YouTube Studio
  • YouTube TV
  • Google owns YouTube 
  • Content on the app ranges from how-to videos to educational kids videos to mature videos that could include profanity and violence
  • According to YouTube’s Terms of Service, users must be at least 13 years old 
  • When users log into YouTube they get access to channel subscriptions, friends’ activity, and recommendations

YouTube in the News

Interesting Engineering headline: Doctor reveals dangerous content in YouTube kids videos
[A] mother reported a horrifying incident where a YouTube Kids video they were watching was abruptly interrupted by a man in sunglasses who gave instructions on how to harm themselves. Interesting Engineering
Computers in Human Behavior Journal headline: Compulsive YouTube usage: A comparison of use motivation and personality effects
Highlights [from the study]:... Increased compulsive YouTube use results in lower academic motivation. Computers in Human Behavior from Science Direct
The Post headline: Why parental controls won't protect your child online
Pedophiles can easily single a child out on message boards and privately DM them. Your children may know not to post nudes of themselves, but what about them twerking while repeating they are only 14... The Post

Why should parents care?

youtube apps logos
  • Students could unintentionally watch inappropriate or dangerous videos because the content is automatically suggested
  • YouTube is user-generated and relies on users to flag videos that violate YouTube's terms of service (for things like violence, nudity, encouraging danger, hate speech, etc.)
  • Students can easily get addicted to watching YouTube videos because there is so much content offered
  • Students can waste a lot of time in the YouTube app and could lose interest in offline activities
  • There are in-app purchases and monthly memberships that students might purchase without realizing the costs

What can parents do?

  • Set up a shared family Google account and agree that students will only watch videos using that login 
  • Encourage your student to use YouTube in a positive way by watching educational content and learning new skills
  • Explore and watch YouTube as a family to discover good channels and content to subscribe and follow
  • Consider using YouTube Kids when possible for the most parental control over screen time limitations, what your students can watch, search for, and see in comments
  • Create a Google Family Account to link for older students to help monitor their screen time and the content they watch on YouTube
  • Turn on the Safety Mode in the YouTube app
  • Don’t rely on the filters. Parents must still closely monitor what their students are posting and watching on YouTube 
  • Turn off the autoplay feature (it is a default setting)
  • As a family, set a daily or weekly time limit for YouTube and hold each other accountable
  • Set up “take a break” reminders in the YouTube app
  • Contribute to reporting inappropriate content when you see it 
  • Join the Very Informed Parent program to learn exactly how to find the safest settings in YouTube for your family

Parent tips if your student wants their own YouTube channel

  • Talk as a family about their channel’s messages and themes and why they want to post videos
  • Watch every video they make BEFORE they upload it
  • Limit who can view their videos by setting them to Private or Unlisted until they are prepared to shine online
  • Disable comments on their videos to prevent negative comments and cyberbullying
  • Join the Student Branding Academy to plan and develop a positive online footprint


The YouTube app can give students a platform to learn and to shine online by showcasing their personalities and talents. But the YouTube app can also give students a window to watch all kinds of content- good and bad - created by all sorts of people.

If you plan to let your student of any age use the YouTube app to watch or share videos, SmartSocial strongly suggests that you closely monitor what they are watching and how much time they spend on YouTube.

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