What Is YouTube Kids?

Does this feature really make YouTube safe for your kids?

YouTube Kids is a version of YouTube that filters out inappropriate content and provides a viewing experience that's tailored to children from preschool to preteens. It's available as an app for both Android and iOS, and it's also available through the official YouTube Kids website.

How Does YouTube Kids Work?

YouTube Kids is a standalone app and website that provides an interface for children to view a specially curated selection of age-appropriate YouTube videos. The idea is that violent and explicit content is weeded out, while educational and creative content is emphasized, so YouTube Kids is a safer experience than the regular YouTube site and app.

The way YouTube Kids works is you have to set up an account for your kid, and their account is then tied to your Google account. This allows you to control the type of content they have access to, put a time limit on their daily app use, and more.

While YouTube Kids isn't perfect, it does provide a lot of ways for parents to safeguard their children from accessing inappropriate content.

YouTube Kids is ad supported, which means your child will see ads in the app. You can remove the ads by subscribing to YouTube Premium, but your child may still see commercial content like unboxing videos and videos from toy manufacturers unless you specifically block those videos.

How to Set up YouTube Kids

  1. Download and launch the YouTube Kids app on your iOS or Android device.

    Download For:

  2. Tap I'm a Parent.

     YouTube Kids setup process.
  3. Tap the right arrow.

    YouTube Kids.
  4. Enter the year you were born, and tap CONFIRM.

  5. Watch the intro video, and tap the right arrow.

    YouTube Kids.
  6. Choose the account you want to sign in with, and tap SIGN IN.

  7. Read the parental consent form and privacy policy, then enter your password and tap CONFIRM.

    YouTube Kids setup process.
  8. Enter your child's information, then tap the right arrow.

    YouTube Kids child profile creation screen.
  9. Choose the type of content you approve of, then tap the right arrow.

    YouTube Kids content types.
  10. If you agree with the selected content, tap SELECT.

    Preschool YouTube Kids content.
  11. Tap + to add another profile, or tap the right arrow to proceed.

    YouTube Kids setup process.
  12. View the parent feature tour, then tap DONE when you're finished.

    YouTube Kids parent feature tour.

What Kind of Content is Allowed on YouTube Kids?

YouTube Kids is designed to showcase kid-friendly content for a variety of age levels. To create the YouTube Kids library, YouTube takes its massive library of videos and filters it to find age-appropriate content for preteens, younger children, and preschoolers. This is primarily accomplished through automated filters, but videos can also be manually added or removed by YouTube staff.

If you're curious about what YouTube considers to be family friendly content, you can check out the family friendly content guide they provide to their content creators. This guide isn't directly applicable to you as a parent, but it will help you understand the type of content your children will find on YouTube Kids.

These are the three basic content categories found in the app:

  • Preschool: This mode is meant for very young children who are not yet in school. Videos found in this mode are primarily geared toward learning, play, and creativity.
  • Younger: This mode is geared toward kids between the ages of 5 - 7. It adds in content like music, cartoons, and arts and crafts to fuel your child's creative side.
  • Older: This mode is for preteens between the ages of 8 - 12. You'll find content like let's play gaming videos and other content that appeals to this age range.

Is YouTube Kids Really Safe?

YouTube Kids relies on complicated algorithms to decide what qualifies for the app. While some content is added manually and curated, there is always a chance of something slipping through the cracks. This was a bigger problem in the early days of YouTube Kids, when some unscrupulous creators figured out the algorithm and populated the app with weird and inappropriate videos, but it's gotten a lot better.

YouTube Kids isn't a babysitter, and it isn't intended for completely unsupervised use, so YouTube does offload some responsibility to parents to police their children's use of the service. You have some fairly robust options to choose the type of available content, and you can also flag anything inappropriate for immediate manual review.

How to Take More Control Over YouTube Kids

The default YouTube Kids settings are sufficient for some parents, but you may want to take greater control over your child's viewing options. If you want that type of control, the YouTube Kids app provides it.

  1. Launch the YouTube Kids app, and tap your child's profile icon in the upper-left corner.

    YouTube Kids.
  2. Tap Add a kid in Parent Settings.

    YouTube Kids profile selection screen.

    You won't actually be adding a kid, this just opens up the parental controls.

  3. Answer the math question and tap Submit, or create your own passcode for future use.

    YouTube Kids parental control access.
  4. Tap Timer to set a timer on the app and limit your child's screen time, or tap Settings for more advanced controls.

    YouTube Kids parental controls.

What Can Parents Control in YouTube Kids?

From within the parental controls section of YouTube Kids, you can set the type of content your child is allowed to access, approve specific channels and videos, and also disable the video search feature.

A screenshot of YouTube Kids video and channel approval.

If you want to have complete control over what your child watches on YouTube Kids, you have to approve each video manually, or approve specific channels you trust.

Be careful when you approve an entire channel, as channels can add new videos at any time. You may want to limit such approvals to content you trust, like Disney Junior and PBS Kids.

Approving videos and channels manually also turns off the video search feature. If you prefer to stick with YouTube's age-appropriate recommendations, but you don't want your kids to use the search feature, you can also switch it off manually. This helps prevent your kids from accidentally running into inappropriate content due to an innocent typo.

How to Approve Channels on YouTube Kids

If you're worried about inappropriate content slipping through the cracks, you can choose to manually approve channels on YouTube kids. As a parent, this feature allows you fine control over the channels your kids can watch. For example, you could choose to limit your child to only watch official Disney content.

Here's how to manually approve channels on YouTube Kids:

  1. Open the YouTube Kids app, and tap the lock in the lower-right corner.

    YouTube Kids profile selection screen.
  2. Answer the math question, or enter your passcode, and tap Submit.

    YouTube Kids parental control access.
  3. Tap Settings.

    YouTube Kids.
  4. Scroll to Content Settings, and click EDIT SETTINGS.

    the my kids section of YouTube Kids.
  5. Tap Approve content yourself.

    A screenshot of YouTube Kids content settings.
  6. Click SELECT.

    A screenshot of YouTube Kids content settings.
  7. Scroll through the list of collections and individual channels, and click the + icon to approve a channel or collection.

    YouTube Kids content approval.
  8. Read the disclaimer, and click GOT IT.

    YouTube Kids collection approval.
  9. Tap the icons in the middle top section to peruse a list of shows, music content, learning content, and discovery-based content. When you are done approving new channels, click DONE.

    Shows on YouTube Kids.
  10. Your child now has access only to the shows, channels, and collections that you approved. Repeat these steps at any time in the future to add or remove any content you like.

Is YouTube Kids Worth Installing?

The bottom line is that YouTube Kids is only as safe as you make it. If you carefully set the viewing options to content that you're comfortable with your child watching, and regularly monitor your child's viewing habits, YouTube Kids provides a great alternative to YouTube for preteens and younger children.

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