How to Use YouTube's Take a Break Reminder

Improve your digital wellbeing

YouTube is one of the largest sources of entertainment and educational videos in the world, and it's perilously easy to get sucked in and forget to take a break. With over 60 hours of video content uploaded to the site every single minute of every single day, it's literally impossible for one person to watch it all.

That's where Youtube's take a break feature comes into play. If you have ever come to your senses three hours deep into an auto-playing labyrinth of top ten videos, meme compilations, and all the other wonderful, terrible stuff the internet has to offer, the take a break feature might be just what you're looking for.

The YouTube take a break feature on a phone.
Arijit Mondal / Moment / Getty Images

How Does YouTube's Take a Break Work?

YouTube's take a break reminder is a feature that is designed to help people control their viewing habits. Due to the way the YouTube app is set up, with recommended videos and an autoplay feature that is on by default, it's extremely easy to open the app to watch a single video and end up watching a whole lot more.

YouTube's take a break feature displayed on a phone.

When this feature is enabled, the YouTube app pops up a gentle reminder at a specified time interval. For instance, if you set a 30-minute interval, it will pop up after you have watched 30 minutes worth of video content. The video is paused as soon as the reminder appears, so there's no need to worry about missing anything.

This feature works whether you watch a lot of short videos or one long video. So if you watch six five minute videos, and your interval is set to 30 minutes, the take a break reminder will appear when the seventh video starts. The same reminder will also pop up 30 minutes after you start an hour-long video.

When the reminder pops up, you can dismiss it by tapping the dismiss button. You can also tap the settings button on the reminder if you want to adjust the time interval. This can come in handy if you have previously set a short interval and you're watching a long video that you don't want the feature to interrupt repeatedly.

YouTube's take a break feature only tracks time you actually spend watching videos on the app. If you pause a video for over 30 minutes, the timer is reset. Pausing a video, or closing a video, also resets the timer, so this feature is not a parental control capable of limiting a child's screen time.

How to Use the YouTube Take a Break Feature

Activating YouTube's take a break reminder is pretty easy, and it's more or less the same process whether you're using an Android or an iPhone. There's just one additional tap, and level of menus, to negotiate in the Android version of the app.

To turn on YouTube's take a break in the Android app:

  1. Open the YouTube app.

  2. Tap your account icon in the upper right corner of the app.

    YouTube on a phone.
  3. Tap Settings.

    YouTube account settings.
  4. Tap General.

    YouTube app settings.
  5. Tap the Remind me to take a break toggle switch.

    YouTube app general settings.
  6. Adjust the reminder frequency to the amount of time you prefer.

    YouTube take a break reminder frequency.
  7. Tap OK.

    YouTube take a break reminder frequency.

To turn on YouTube's take a break in the iOS app:

  1. Open the YouTube app.

  2. Tap your account icon in the upper right corner of the app.

  3. Tap Settings.

  4. Tap Remind me to take a break.

  5. Adjust the reminder frequency to the preferred amount of time.

Once you have turned on the take a break reminder, you can return to watching your favorite videos. When the amount of time you specified has passed, the feature will kick in.

Where Can You Use YouTube's Take a Break?

YouTube's take a break feature isn't available everywhere. If you were hoping for a gentle reminder to stop watching YouTube on your laptop, then you're out of luck. In that case, you may want to consider setting an alarm on your phone, or investing in an egg timer until YouTube rolls the feature out to additional platforms.

The YouTube take a break feature is available in newer versions of the YouTube mobile app for Android and iPhone. The first version of the app that included the take a break reminder was 13.17, so if you have an older version than that, you won't be able to use the feature.

What Other Initiatives Does YouTube Have for Digital Wellbeing?

YouTube's digital wellbeing initiative is a series of goals and features that are designed to help viewers make smart choices when using the YouTube mobile app. Some of these features are available, others are in the planning stages, and there are even more that haven't even been announced yet.

Here are some of YouTube's most useful tools to help promote your digital wellbeing:

  • Time watched profile: a profile you can access in the YouTube app to see how much time you spend watching videos each day, including tools to help manage watching habits.
  • Scheduled notification digest: a feature that lets you condense all of the YouTube app push notifications you would normally receive over the course of a day into a single digest.
  • Disable notification sounds and vibrations: a feature that allows you to prevent the YouTube app from initiating any sound or vibration notifications when you're asleep, at school, at work, or any other time of the day.