Vast video site entertains and educates; iffy stuff abounds.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This immense site is a mixed bag. There are definitely positive messages to be found, and by design, YouTube encourages creativity and sharing (its tagline is "Broadcast Yourself."). But you will come across negative messages, stereotypes, poor role models, and inappropriate comments and content interspersed with the good.


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


Because there's such a wide variety of content in general, 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.


There's no shortage of lewd and crude language on YouTube. It's prevalent within certain videos and frequently found in the user comments section. Of course, there are just as many clean, wholesome, helpful comments. However, curse words and inappropriate language can be filtered out or hidden by enabling the site's Safety Mode, although Safety Mode was not difficult to disable during our review.


Ads of all kinds appear on every page and are even embedded at the bottom of each video you're viewing (though they can be clicked on to close). Some ads are iffy, and clicking on them can lead you off YouTube and onto other sites. Marketers often use YouTube to promote their movies, music videos, products, and more. Users may indicate their ad preferences (but not disable ads) in settings.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

There are references to all kinds of substances in some of the videos as well as within the user comments. Enabling the site's Safety Mode helps filter out much of it, although Safety Mode was not difficult to disable during our review.

Privacy & safety

YouTube raises potentially serious privacy concerns. Anyone can access YouTube, but you must be 13 or over to create your own account or channel (necessary for uploading your own videos). Creating your own channel enables you to keep your videos completely closed to anyone but selected friends if you choose. But it's also easy to share (and over-share) if you choose. Beginning in March 2012, Google plans to track users across its services, including YouTube. When you're logged into YouTube, your search information is collected and follows you to other Google services, such as Gmail and Picasa. You cannot opt out of this data-sharing. YouTube has a Safety Mode that allows parents to filter out potentially objectionable content, including videos with age restrictions and mature content. It also hides comments on videos and replaces most inappropriate language with symbols. Opt in to this Safety Mode, and that objectionable content will not show up in video search, related videos, playlists, shows, and movies. Lock in Safety Mode and it will always filter content on that account in a particular browser (otherwise, you'll need to enable Safety Mode every time you log in). However, Safety Mode was easy to disable during our review, and YouTube acknowledges that no filter is 100 percent accurate.

Parents Need to Know

Parents needs to know that there are many videos on YouTube that may not be age-appropriate for their kids. 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). Plenty of age-inappropriate content can be surfaced 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.

What kids can learn



  • producing new content


  • multiple forms of expression

Tech Skills

  • evaluating media messages
  • using and applying technology
  • digital creation

Engagement, Approach, Support


An endless stream of videos enthralls users of all ages, sometimes well past their bedtime. It would be hard to overestimate YouTube's popular appeal.

Learning Approach

Having kids take an active role research may help them learn to investigate their interests. There are often multiple videos on a particular topic, so it's possible for kids to find a style that suits them best.


Help videos and FAQ pages are very thorough. However, younger children may still find it difficult to navigate this large, adult-focused site. Users actively network via the site's social media features.

What kids can learn



  • producing new content


  • multiple forms of expression

Tech Skills

  • evaluating media messages
  • using and applying technology
  • digital creation

Kids can find information and instruction about a variety of skills and build 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 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 is astounding.

This Learning Rating review was written by Conny Coon

What's it about?

Visitors can search -- and find -- virtually anything on this comprehensive video library site. 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 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, but for those seeking educational or instructional content, there's plenty to peruse and some helpful information to use.

Is it any good?


YOUTUBE.COM 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 for making dozens of different styles of friendship bracelets? Need to know how to create a unique Halloween costume? Want to show your child 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 that everyone's laughing about. The beauty of YouTube is being able to see so much in one place at any given time. That, however, 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 like other Internet search engines, it is also rife with questionable content and inappropriate user comments that are easy for computer-savvy kids to find and view.

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.

Families can talk about...

Website details

Genre:Video Sites
Pricing structure:Free

This review of YouTube was written by

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Great handpicked alternatives

  • Top-notch social networking on the go; some issues for kids.
  • Diverse collection of videos ranges from tame to iffy.
  • Safe YouTube alternative where parents pick video playlists.
  • Handpicked selections offer best videos from around the Web.

What parents and kids say

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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 inappropriate for ages 6 and under, iffy for 7 to 9, then age appropriate for ages 10+ OK so I cleared it up. Now I hope they take my advice and do what I say. They are very wrong.
What other families should know
Great messages
Teen, 13 years old Written byrobinrunner March 20, 2011

viewers should stay cautious

Youtube can be an educational place or a place to get information through video. The only problem is anyone can upload one, with whatever innopropriate content they'd like. And once you see something through your eyes, it's hard to get out of your brain
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Educational value
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 stuff on Youtube, then watch them the next time they're on. Other than that, it's an awesome website!!!!!


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