How to Use YouTube's Parental Controls

In case your child's search for funny cat videos takes a wrong turn

What to Know

  • Web: Choose your YouTube profile image, select Restricted Mode and turn on its slider. Choose Lock Restricted Mode on this browser.
  • App: Tap your profile image. Choose Settings. Turn on the slider next to Restricted Mode.

YouTube, the world's favorite video-sharing site, can become a parent's nightmare if you have curious kids. There's no V-chip for YouTube like there is for the television, but there are a couple of things you can do to keep your kids a little safer.

These safeguards don't guarantee mature content won't reach your children's eyes, but something is better than nothing.

In addition to the Parental Control tips listed here, if you have a child under 13 years of age, consider using YouTube Kids for them. It's specifically designed with young children in mind.

Enable YouTube Restricted Mode in Your Web Browser

Restricted Mode is part of YouTube's current parental control offerings. Restricted Mode attempts to filter YouTube search results so that mature content is weeded out. It also prevents your child from viewing material that has been flagged as inappropriate by the YouTube community or has been marked "for mature audiences only" by the content's creator.

Restricted Mode is meant to limit the content of an explicit nature. YouTube makes no guarantees that it is 100 percent effective.

To enable YouTube Restricted Mode:

  1. Log in to YouTube and open the home screen.

  2. Click your face (or the blank face if you didn't add an image to your account) in the upper-right corner of the screen.

    YouTube with the profile image highlighted
  3. Select Restricted Mode at the bottom of the menu.

    Restricted Mode selected in the YouTube menu
  4. Toggle Restricted Mode to On by clicking the slider to the right of the line that reads Activate Restricted Mode.

    Activate Restricted Mode toggle button in YouTube
  5. Click Lock Restricted Mode on this browser to prevent your child from turning safety mode off.

    Lock Restricted Mode on this browser link at YouTube

The page you were on reloads, and YouTube is restricted from delivering inappropriate content.

You need to repeat this process for every web browser on your computer.

Enable YouTube Restricted Mode on Your Mobile Device

Restricted Mode is available on most YouTube mobile apps. The process for locking the feature is similar on these devices. Here's how to enable Restricted Mode on an iOS device.

  1. Open the YouTube mobile app and sign in to your account.

  2. Tap your profile picture at the top of the screen.

  3. Choose Settings.

  4. Use the slider next to Restricted Mode to turn on the feature.

  5. Tap the X at the top of the screen to close the screen and confirm the setting change.

    YouTube app for iOS showing Restricted Mode settings

YouTube Restricted Mode weeds out content that is inappropriate for children, but you should not rely on it entirely.

Coming Soon: YouTube Supervised Experiences

In 2015, YouTube launched the YouTube Kids app for iOS and Android devices to provide a safe place for young children to view YouTube videos. Next up is a new experience for tweens and young teens: YouTube Supervised Experiences.

Scheduled for beta release in 2021, it is designed for older children who are ready to explore more than the YouTube Kids app offers. Supervised Experiences will give parents three exposure levels they can choose for their children: 9+, 13+, and almost everything. Stay tuned!

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