How to Use YouTube's Parental Controls

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

Kids looking at a computer screen
Photo: FatCamera / Getty Images

YouTube, the world's favorite video-sharing site, can become a parent's nightmare, especially if you have curious kids. As a parent, you play the role of internet traffic cop. Unfortunately, the internet is a 50 million lane highway. 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.

There are no guarantees that these safeguards will keep mature content from reaching your children's eyes, but something is better than nothing.

Enable YouTube Restricted Mode in Your Web Browser

Restricted Mode is part of YouTube's current parental control offering. Restricted Mode attempts to filter YouTube search results so that the 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 mainly 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.

    Screenshot of YouTube home page highlighting profile picture to click
  3. Select Restricted Mode at the bottom of the menu.

    Screenshot of YouTube settings menu, highlighting Restricted Mode menu item
  4. Toggle Restricted Mode to the On by clicking the slider to the right of the line that reads ACTIVATE RESTRICTED MODE.

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

    Lock Restricted Mode on this browser link in YouTube Restricted Mode settings menu

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

You need to repeat this process for all the other web browsers that are on your computer.

Enable YouTube Safety Mode on Your Mobile Device

Restricted Mode is available on most YouTube mobile apps. Check the settings area of the mobile app to see if it is an option. The process for locking the feature is similar on the mobile devices

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

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

  3. Choose Settings.

  4. Tap Restricted Mode Filtering. Use the slide next to Restricted Mode to turn on the feature.

    Three iOS screens, showing Profile icon, Settings button, and Restricted Mode toggle
  5. Tap the X at the top of the screen to close the screen and confirm the setting change.

YouTube Restricted Mode weeds out content that is not appropriate for children, but you should not rely on it completely. You can find out more about YouTube's Safety Mode from the YouTube Safety Mode Support Page.