A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that YouTube is a video-sharing site and app, and there are many videos on YouTube that may not be age-appropriate for kids. However, as of 2021, YouTube announced that it's slowly releasing more parental control options within YouTube if a parent sets up a supervised Google account for their kid. There will be three tiers of supervision: Explore (the most restrictive), Explore More, and Most of YouTube (the least restrictive). Kids with supervised accounts won't get personalized ads and can't comment or create. As of this writing, the new parental controls are in beta mode, so they're still being tested.
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What's it about?
On YOUTUBE, which is a comprehensive video library site, visitors can search -- and find -- virtually anything. Its content is entirely user-generated, so it's important to be attentive to each video's source. Plenty of age-inappropriate content can surface when you type in the most innocent of search terms, so parents will want to monitor kids' use. There are all kinds of videos available -- including lots of disturbing content -- but there's plenty of educational content to peruse and some helpful information to use.
Is it any good?
This video-sharing site has easily secured its place in pop culture, and is an incredibly mixed bag for kids. It offers so much to discover -- and love -- in its comprehensive video library: Information. Education. Instruction. Entertainment. Distraction. Delight. Want step-by-step guided instructions on making dozens of styles of friendship bracelets? Need to know how to create a unique Halloween costume? Want to show your kid what the robot from Lost in Space looked like or check out the Earth's solar system? You'll find that and much, much more here, including the latest viral videos of that kid or cat everyone's laughing about. The beauty of YouTube is being able to see so much in one place at any given time. But that also makes it difficult to know what your kids are finding and viewing when you're not supervising.
Yes, YouTube provides an endless source of useful information. But, as with other internet search engines, it's also rife with questionable content and inappropriate user comments that are easy for computer-savvy kids to find and view. This isn't likely to change, even with the newly created content-specific channels such as Gaming, Music, or Kids or with the paid, ad-free channel, YouTube Red. In addition, in fall 2016, YouTube debuted its Community feature for YouTube channel owners, which provides live video capabilities. Users are also able to text through the feature and share animated GIFs and images to connect with fans, who can sign up to receive notifications whenever hosts post something. What makes YouTube such an innovative site is its usefulness as a creative outlet for kids and adults alike. Homemade movies -- from silly to serious and everything in between -- are commonplace, and innovative video creations are easy to find. It's not only a place to experience and enjoy the creativity of others, but also a place to exercise your own. That said, due to the scope of what's posted -- and how easy it is to access it -- supervision is key. Check kids' Watch History, look at their subscriptions, check out the recommended videos, turn off autoplay, and use Restricted Mode, or use YouTube Kids instead.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about appropriate content for kids to view. Since there are plenty of items that are inappropriate for kids, how can you tell whether your kids are watching videos that are safe for them? What if they click on a suggested video that has mature content? If you're also interested in finding out what content kids are watching, make sure to check out our latest Young Kids and YouTube research report.
Talk about digital media creation. What appeals to you about creating videos or making a YouTube channel? Do your friends have their own channels?
Discuss how your kids are using YouTube, for how long, and what they love to watch. Watch with them when you can.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.