How to Set Up Parental Controls on YouTube

Because you can't look over their shoulder all the time.

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Nobody ever watches just one video on YouTube. Thanks to  “autoplay,” which automatically queues up another video, one leads to two and all of a sudden you’re playing a game of what will I see next? It’s true for you and it’s true for kids. And no matter how okay you are with that first hilarious cat video your kid watches, you’re not able to see every video that pops up afterward because, well, life. Considering how much YouTube content is unfit for young eyes but easily accessible with a simple search, there’s no telling what weird horrors your kid could encounter. But it doesn’t have to be like that. There are ways to lock it (and your browser) down and restrict what your kids can watch. Here’s how to set YouTube’s parental controls, as well as a few other tips for blocking mature content from your kids.

Use YouTube’s ‘Restricted’ Mode

YouTube’s Restricted Mode’ is an optional parental control that “uses signals such as video title, description, metadata, Community Guidelines reviews, and age-restrictions to identify and filter out potentially mature content.” Of course, it’s not foolproof and questionable content can still get through, but it’s the best line of defense. And it’s easy to turn on if you have a Google account. The only thing to remember is that it’s browser-level protection and must be turned on for each browser/computer your kids use.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Access and sign into your YouTube/Google account.
2. Click the ‘Settings’ button in the left sidebar.
3. Click the drop-down menu at the bottom of the page that reads: “Restricted Mode: Off.”
4. Select “On” to lock Restricted Mode on this browser.
5. Click ‘Save.”

You’re done, at least for this browser. Rinse and repeat with other browsers and other computers. Also, don’t forget to log out of your YouTube/Google account when you finish. Otherwise, a clever kid will quickly figure out how to undo all your hard work and turn Restricted Mode off. Just saying.

Update Permissions on Phones and Tablets

Since you’re also likely to hand over a tablet or phone, make sure Restricted Mode is enabled on both the device’s browser and respective YouTube app. For mobile browsers, follow the procedures outlined above. For YouTube apps, the premise is the same:

1. Log into your YouTube/Google account.
2. Click on the “three dot” icon for ‘Settings.’
3. Select ‘Settings’ > ‘General.’
4. Turn ‘Restricted Mode’ on.

1. Click on your account button in the top right corner.
2. Tap ‘Settings.’
3. Click ‘Restricted Mode’ Filtering.
4. Turn ‘Restricted Mode’ on.

Again, sign out if you have kids with above-average intellect.

Be Sure to Turn on SafeSearch

Locking down YouTube is fine and all, but let this be a friendly reminder that kids access mature material all over the internet. Your first priority should be turning on the ‘Safe Search’ filter in any browser your child uses.

1. Go to
2. Click ‘Settings’ in the bottom right corner.
3. Select ‘Search Settings.’
4. Check ‘Turn on SafeSearch” and click Lock SafeSearch.

And for Some Extra Protection

For added peace of mind ⏤ or if you’d rather not deal with having to change the settings on every laptop, tablet, or phone ⏤ you can also digital-proof your house by installing a ‘net nanny’ router or device. Unlike software that needs to be installed on every computer, these devices usually connect to your wifi network and create a forcefield around the joint, blocking specific sites, keywords, and content. Here are six screen-monitoring devices to check out.

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