YouTube is making some changes after companies like AT&T and Hasbro pulled ads from the site. The concern grew from a Times of London investigation that found pedophiles were using the comment section on live videos to influence and groom minors. YouTube announced it’s taking a tough stance to stand up for child safety and has disabled comments from “tens of millions of videos that could be subject to predatory behavior.” The company says it’s focusing on videos featuring young minors for now and will soon take into account videos with older minors “that could be at risk of attracting predatory behavior.”
Google-owned YouTube has also shut down more than 400 channels in its crackdown, but the task is daunting. The company told CNBC a year ago that it had more than 500 hours of new content uploaded onto the platform every minute. YouTube has some safeguards in place and uses an algorithm and thousands of employees to monitor the site for inappropriate content. But it’s not failsafe. That’s where parents come in.
If your child has their own YouTube channel and is posting videos, there are simple ways to deter comments like those found in the Times of London investigation.
First, parents can set the videos their child posts to private in order to choose which people can view them. Comments are not allowed at all when a video is set to private.
Parents can also completely disable comments on public videos. Go to Creator Studio > Video Manager and select which videos you want to manage. At the top of the screen, click the Actions menu and select More actions > Comments. Then you can select whether or not you want comments allowed on your videos.
Finally, parents can choose to be the moderator for all comments posted to videos on their child’s channel. That way you can hold all comments for approval before they post. Again, go to Video Manager, and when you find the video you want, click Edit. Click on Advanced Settings and under “Allow comments,” select Approved.
For parents of kids who are just viewing videos and not creating, realize that YouTube is meant for users aged 13 and older. So if you’re struggling to keep appropriate YouTube videos in front of your kindergartener, it’s time to switch to the YouTube Kids app. Create a profile for as many children as you have and then choose from three options of how they can view content. The first two choices include videos YouTube believes is appropriate for kids age 8 and under, or for kids 12 and under. Both of these choices will allow your child to explore and search for videos within that content. The last option gives parents the most control, allowing them to handpick content for their kids. This choice will not allow the child to use the search function. Click on the lock icon any time you want to change these settings. Also click the lock to set time limits for the app. When time is up, the app will lock.
If you are going to allow older children to use regular YouTube, make sure they are logged in and that you set the account to Restricted Mode. Click on the profile picture and toggle on the option so it can help hide videos with potentially mature content. It might also be a good idea to turn off Autoplay so that kids don’t get stuck going down a rabbit hole of videos you may not want them to see. Parents must change these settings in each separate browser.
Another way to minimize the chances of your child accidentally seeing inappropriate content is to only allow them to watch verified channels. If you see a checkmark next to the name of a YouTube channel, it means that channel is official. It’s always risky for kids to simply type in the name of their favorite cartoon character and watch whatever pops up. But if they watch a video from a verified channel, there shouldn’t be any unwelcome surprises.
Similar to how parents can handpick content in the YouTube Kids app, they can create playlists in regular YouTube that only contain videos they know and trust. When you see a video you’d like to add to your child’s playlist, click the “Add to” icon that looks like three lines with a plus sign. Just make sure your kids know they are only allowed to watch those playlists and not browse through all of YouTube.4 comments on this story
Once you set up these parameters for your kids, make sure other caregivers know the rules too. Grandparents, babysitters and even older siblings should also be aware of the best ways to shield little eyes from inappropriate videos.
As always, report when you see something inappropriate and talk with your kids all the time. Make sure they know to come talk to you if they see something that makes them scared or uncomfortable. That open line of communication will serve you better than every parental control on the web.