These days, we live in an environment that is saturated with digital devices (personal computers, tablets, laptops, and cellular phones) and the use of social media. Social media is a powerful way to communicate with friends, work, and access all kinds of information. Doubtless, digital media is here to stay. However, many parents may be concerned about their children’s use of digital devices and how they use social media, in particular.

In May 2009, the Nielsen Company reported that two-year-olds to nine-year-olds comprised about 9.5% of the online community, and this number is growing. In addition, Nielsen also reported that those same children made up about 83% of YouTube viewing. Their YouTube viewing generally consists of short-form video clips.

YouTube is a great way for kids to watch videos online, listen to music, and access virtually everything under the sun that is in video format. While the application is extremely useful, some parents are still concerned about the time their children may spend on YouTube. Moreover, many parents are concerned about the content their children can access while they are spending many of their waking hours on powerful social media sites. This is why knowing about the Youtube safety mode is important for protecting your children during the time they spend watching videos.

While many tablets and laptops come pre-equipped with applications that allow parents to limit their kids’ time spent using social media, many so-called “nanny apps” can be downloaded. These apps can help filter content viewable by children as well as give parents more control over what their children access on YouTube and other digital media sites. Many, if not most, parents are guilty of letting kids’ digital devices serve as “babysitters”. It is a common phenomenon but there are ways to limit and control what their children can access on the internet, especially YouTube.

In fact, by enabling the YouTube safety mode, parents can successfully limit the availability of content that may not be suitable for their young children.

How to Activate the YouTube Safety Mode

1-Visit YouTube

2- Go to the bottom of any YouTube page and click on the grey drop-down ‘safety’ menu to select your preference.

3- By turning the YouTube safety mode “on” or “off” and saving, you can control what children can view on the site. For those with an account, the YouTube safety mode can be “locked” so that children cannot change the account setting when accessed from the browser used.

Enabling the YouTube safety mode is the first step toward filtering out objectionable content for your youngster. Talking to your children is beneficial as well. Letting them know about what is appropriate and inappropriate viewing for their particular age group is especially helpful.

Tip: Get more details about the YouTube safety mode and how it works in the YouTube help section.

Also, visit the YouTube Safety Center for more information about staying safe online!

Is Activating the YouTube Safety Mode Enough?

Many experts have broken down age appropriate viewing material into distinct groups. However, what is appropriate for a given ten-year-old child may be inappropriate viewing material for another ten-year-old. Maturity levels differ even among the same age group. There are some helpful recommendations along broader lines of age groups. For example, for those children who are in the “under five” group, it is wise for parents to begin setting boundaries and limits related to how much time they spend using social media and YouTube, in particular. It is a good idea to set up the passwords and pins on your personal computing devices before your children use them. Also, it is smart for parents to engage their children in certain child-oriented videos on YouTube which helps “steer” children towards the right sites, preventing encounters with objectionable or adult materials.

Smart parents may want to explain the ground rules for their children’s YouTube usage to other relatives, babysitters, and friends. One site also advises setting your homepage on your PC or tablet to a family-friendly site like Cbeebies. It is also smart to remember that public places such as restaurants and cafes may have available Wi-Fi which will probably not have parental controls set on it. This is a good time to not lend your tablet or cell phone to your kids. Regardless of which age group your children fall under, it is important to keep communication lines open between parents and children. It is also important to remember that, while YouTube (and other sites) may be like a toy to your children (and maybe even yourself), it is important to remember who is the parent and who is the child, especially when the children are much more tech-savvy than their parents. It also does not hurt to ask what your kids are viewing in a casual and conversational tone. They may be even researching a topic for homework. YouTube is a site that is chockfull of informational and instructional videos as well.

Above all, talk to your children about YouTube and let them know that there are limits and boundaries — as well as expectations on your behalf — as to what they are allowed to view and what they are not permitted to view. This initial conversation will help “clear the air” as well as assist in developing mutual trust between both the parents and their children. It is a good idea to establish this kind of relationship with your children so that they are informed not only about the potential dangers present on YouTube but so that they also know that it can be entertaining as well as educational.

Use YouTube Safety Mode but be Aware Too

Many children — especially those who are older than 10 or 11 — realize both the upside and the downside of YouTube. All videos on YouTube have been rated either for a mature audience or children already. Many children surveyed consider YouTube something to do when they are “bored” or as something that is a “time filler”. Surveys have also found that the same children realize that YouTube is educational as well.

Thus, it is important that parents avoid the pratfalls of relying on YouTube as a type of “electronic babysitter” while, at the same time, stressing the educational aspects of YouTube to the up-and-coming “digital generation”. It is recommended that parents “surf” YouTube as well in order to familiarize themselves with its video content. A solid familiarity with the site and what it has to offer may help ease your apprehensiveness about YouTube in particular and other social media in general.

Communication is Important – Even with YouTube Safety Mode Activated

It is also important to communicate with other parents about how they handle their kids’ YouTube use. You may be able to pass along some helpful information while learning something new in the process. Also, inform older siblings about what they share with their younger, less mature brothers and sisters. In other words, there should be a foundation of boundaries and limits set for the entire household but also make sure to maintain a sense of trust and open communication. Your children will only know what is age-appropriate after you have discussed this topic with them. Until then, there may be a lot of ambiguity in children’s minds about what kind of material you, as a parent, may consider objectionable or for adults only. Older children will probably already have some formulation of how you define objectionable content but, despite their age, it is still important to establish baseline rules with them.

Remember, YouTube is an amazing tool that is becoming more and more popular all the time, especially with very young children. If you follow these tips and use your own parenting common sense, your kids will use YouTube responsibly. Most likely, they will grow up to be just as responsible for navigating their way through the digital world as they are in the “real world”.

Also, remember that you can enable the YouTube safety mode and control what your children view using YouTube. By enabling the YouTube safety mode, you are virtually ensuring that your children stay away from adult and/or objectionable content.

It is a very achievable goal to assist your children in using YouTube for educational and wholesome entertainment purposes. As a parent, that goal is not out of your reach. Above all things, be there for your children when they have questions about YouTube. If you do not have the answers, be patient and find a friend or another parent who has those answers. Be there for your children and establish a strong bond and a relationship with them based on trust.

So, take your children’s viewing time on YouTube a pleasant one by following these simple suggestions AND by enabling the YouTube safety mode. Not only will it make your job easier as a parent, but it will also help reinforce a bond of mutual trust and respect between yourself and your children.