YouTube

Website review by
Conny Coon, Common Sense Media
YouTube Website Poster Image
Vast video site entertains, educates; iffy stuff abounds.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 253 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 1105 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this website.

Educational Value

Kids can learn information and instruction about a variety of skills, while also building knowledge by seeking out videos related to their interests. Multiple videos with step-by-step instructions for almost any hobby or pursuit can be easily found. Want to build a skateboard? Tie a slip knot? Have a lemonade stand? It's all here. School-related advice and help is also available. Need to compute pi? Conjugate verbs in Italian? It's here, too. YouTube also has tools for media creation so kids can explore video editing with their own uploaded videos. When used for informational purposes, the amount of information that can be found on YouTube is astounding.

Positive Messages

Definitely positive messages; encourages creativity, sharing. But you will come across negative messages, stereotypes, poor role models, inappropriate comments, content.

Violence

Violent content exists (including some anime, movie trailers, video game scenes, and music videos), and sometimes users' comments are less than tame. Still, plenty of videos are violence-free. YouTube has a Safety Mode that should block some inappropriate content, but it was easy to disable during our review.

Sex

Because there's such a wide variety of content, sexual images, innuendo, and comments exist in various places (including music videos, which are popular viewing for teens and tweens). Porn videos cannot be viewed without logging in, but it's not difficult to lie about your age to get an account, and porn-like videos can be found even if they're not labeled as such. YouTube has a Safety Mode that should block some inappropriate content, but it was easy to disable during our review.

Language

Plenty of crude commentary. Curse words, inappropriate language can be filtered out, hidden by Safety Mode, although this is easily disabled.

Consumerism

Various ads appear on every page, embedded at bottom of each video (though they can be clicked on to close). Some ads are iffy, can lead to other sites. Marketers promote movies, music videos, products, more. Users may indicate ad preferences (but can't disable ads) in settings.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

References to numerous substances in some videos, user comments. Enabling site's Safety Mode filters out much of it, but this is easy to disable.

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 their kids. The app includes a feature that lets you see how much time you've spent watching videos, and you can set reminders to turn off autoplay and take a break. The site is entirely user-generated and relies on its community to flag videos that violate YouTube's terms of service (mostly for sexual content, language, and hate speech). For full reviews of the most popular channels, check out our YouTube Reviews. Channel owners can also now distribute live content, and can launch livestreams at will, which are governed by YouTube rules. Plenty of inappropriate content can surface by typing in the most innocent of search terms, so parents will want to monitor kids' use. Videos here run the gamut, from commercial to educational to music videos to homemade clips. Many kids love YouTube and rely on it as a way of keeping up with popular culture; videos go "viral" when viewers share the clips they like. One of the Web's most popular destinations for people of all ages, YouTube now curates its videos, suggesting clips and new "channels" based on what you've watched previously. Kids can also discover new videos by seeing what's popular and trending throughout its immense collection. These new features can easily increase the amount of time your kids spend on the site. YouTube does offer parents the ability to filter out objectionable content and comments using Safety Mode. However, Safety Mode doesn't catch everything, and it's easy to disable. YouTube also has three channels by which users can access specialized content: YouTube Kids, YouTube Gaming, and YouTube Music. Users can also subscribe to YouTube Red: For $9.99 a month, users can stream videos for free, save videos for background and offline viewing, and access new original content. As of 2017, the Youtube app allows in-app messaging between users. Also within the app, users can enable the option to "take a break" from within their user settings and set a time for a reminder. Read the privacy policy to find out about the types of information collected and shared.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bytdidjdood April 10, 2009

oh come on

This site isn't that bad.
Parent of a 3, 6, and 8 year old Written bymr.travis February 11, 2010

WAY too many wildcards on youtube

There is a smuttiness prevalent on youtube that ultimately has made it off-limits to my kids. Example: a friend forwarded a funny Christmas video showing costum... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old March 26, 2010

Wrong! Wrong! WRONG!

OK the common sense people are wrong. I know for a fact that youtube should be for age 10+. And it can't be iffy for 13 to ages 15. It should be inappr... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old March 4, 2011

It depends on what you watch

Youtube is a good website, but is it inaproppiate? It really depends on what you watch. If your a parent and think that your child is looking up inaproppiate st... Continue reading

What's it about?

On this comprehensive video library site, visitors can search -- and find -- virtually anything. YOUTUBE's 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. Videos here run the gamut, from commercial to educational to music videos to homemade clips, but for those seeking educational or instructional content, there's plenty to peruse and some helpful information to use.

Is it any good?

This video-sharing site has easily secured its place in pop culture, primarily because it offers so much to discover -- and love -- in this 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, some guidance is a good idea.

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?

  • Talk about digital media creation. What appeals to you about creating videos or making a YouTube channel? Do your friends have their own channels?

Website details

For kids who love creating and watching

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