YouTube App Details:
Description: YouTube is the king of video sharing websites and part of the Google family. The statistics around YouTube are mind-numbing; with over 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute (do the math!). It is accessible as an app or via its website).
Category: Photo/Video Sharing
APP Store rating: 12+ (“infrequent/mild cartoon/fantasy violence, alcohol, tobacco, drug, mature/suggestive themes, profanity or crude humor, sexual content and nudity,” etc.)
What parents need to know about YouTube:
- Porn Around the Corner – there’s just so much inappropriate material out there, and it’s not hard to get to it. Even if you’re watching clean videos, there are many thumbnail suggestions that come up at the end of videos that can be inappropriate or tempting.
- Bad Influence – YouTube is a place for anyone to share any opinion he/she wants. So, if there’s a kid who has big questions (e.g., sexuality, faith, relationships), there will always be a video with someone who has things to say about any topic. Without the right monitoring, kids can be fed terrible and destructive information that is difficult to unwind.
- Kid Friendly – In February, YouTube launched YouTube Kids, which filters out much of the junk and with monitoring from parents, it is great for kids through around age eight. My own children use it and love it. This doesn’t mean leaving young kids unmonitored for long periods of time. For elementary aged kids, parents should actively monitor everything their kids are watching.
Note: With YouTube Kids, parents can select the small padlock icon in the lower right corner of the app, and after typing in a 4-digit code, in “settings,” the “search” feature can be disabled. This might prevent some older kids from trying to perform inappropriate searches.
- Parental Controls? The short story is that whether you’re on a laptop or in the mobile environment, YouTube’s parental controls are variable and just lacking. We did an extensive blog post on how to best use YouTube’s parental controls on each type of device – don’t miss it!
Note: when using the app, there’s no way to guarantee anything. Please keep kids out of the YouTube app. Instead, push kids to use YouTube through a filtered and monitored browser like Mobicip or Covenant Eyes, then you can at least see where your kids are going. The bonus with the Mobicip browser for younger kids is that it’s the only filter we’ve tested that actually blocks the thumbnail images of inappropriate YouTube videos. If you’re older child uses Covenant Eyes, then the nice feature is that the Covenant Eyes VPN forces Restricted Mode in the YouTube app, and wherever YouTube might be used.
- Time Suck – we all know how easy it is to consume hours of life clicking aimlessly through YouTube videos. Now, YouTube offers time reminders to let you know when you’ve been using the app for 15-, 30-, 60-minutes, etc. in the hopes that you’ll shift to something else. The machine we’ve built is now teaching us how to use the machine better! How ironic!
- Incognito Mode – in July 2018, YouTube launched a feature on its Android app whereby users can go completely secret and not leave a trace of the videos they’re watching. You simply toggle on Incognito Mode (screens showing you how to do that) and you can watch whatever you want.
YouTube Bottom Line:
Parents just have to know that inappropriate content is pervasive on YouTube. But, the right monitoring can make a huge difference. For pre-school and early elementary aged kids, it’s just YouTube Kids. For older elementary, middle, and high school kids, Mobicip is really the only way to achieve any sort of balance between filtering and monitoring YouTube based on our testing. For your upper-elementary or middle school-aged child, it’s the best YouTube solution we’ve tested. For high school students, Covenant Eyes is the right solution.