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Is YouTube™ a Safe Site For Children to Use?

A child may be exposed to a lot of obscenity in pictures and words on YouTube™.
A parent can search for family friendly videos on YouTube™ while a child is not present.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 17 October 2014
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YouTube™, like many other user-generated sites, has a lot of great videos and music to offer to the entire family. A person can look up old cartoons, or even shorts from children's programming and usually find a lot of terrific content. Videos that are inappropriate are usually flagged within a day of being put up, and people who violate the site's appropriateness clauses can lose their membership.

While at first, this sounds like the YouTube™ site might prove safe for a child to use, this is not entirely true unless a parent wants to expose a child to a great deal of obscenity, both in pictures and words. Sometimes, a video isn’t offensive but comments following it by users are, or a title itself uses profanity. As well, searches for videos can often lead to inappropriate content that has not yet been deleted or flagged. When someone uses a search for favorite kid-friendly things on the site, he is also given a list of other possibly related topics. A child navigating YouTube™ is likely to come across a lot of material that parents would not dream of allowing the child to see.

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What a parent can do with user generated sites like this is set up a membership account and perform parental searches. Membership allows the person to create a page of favorites that doesn’t have unnecessary or undesirable content showing up to disturb or give children a needlessly advanced education. While searching, children should be out of the room, since things that seem innocent can suddenly turn quite ugly, like drawings of cute animals that begin to spew swear words.

By searching when a child is not present, a parent can sift through the inappropriate content and figure out which videos are great for kids and are family friendly. He can also set up the account preferences to not receive inappropriate or flagged content, although this is not a failsafe. Unfortunately, inappropriate content may leak through in the most innocent searches.

As with many Internet sites, the use of YouTube™ should be carefully watched by parents, and ideally, first navigated by parents in order to help children avoid inappropriate material. Even for older children, the site can dip into pornography, violence, and obscenity quite quickly. Posting videos on the by children may also pose problems since comments can be quite obscene.

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anon943709
Post 31

We have the "Safety" mode switched on, but my children and I have just been subjected to a "pre-roll" ad with a trailer for a movie called Dom Hemingway that opens with Jude Law shouting "Bleep you and bleep your cat!" It was then followed by scenes of violence, drug taking, a topless woman and more swearing. This should never have happened.

mammameea
Post 29

Try PlayCorner TV for the iPhone. It blocks the bad videos and is set up for little kids (preschoolers) because it has pictures only so they can find videos, and there are videos suited to the age like ABC, etc.

anon349231
Post 28

Those of you who think you can only view inappropriate videos or content when you are logged in are completely naive! The only thing you can't do when not logged in is create a browsing history. That's right: no history of what you or they are watching. The so-called privacy settings can be set and changed by anyone, so that includes your computer savvy children.

For those who think kids are safe on their ipod, ipad devices, guess again. Even if you set the restrictions to PG, G for videos, language, etc. on their device, it does not block "content" from other sites such as safari or youtube from getting through. The so-called restrictions in youtube still show the snapshot of the video but has a message next to it that says, "this video has been blocked". Again, those restrictions can be changed without any password protection.

Youtube has made it very easy for our children to view porn and other sexual content. If you have children under 13, you would be smart to delete it altogether to avoid not to having to deal with issues or topics that should come a bit later in life.

I believe something that was once thought of a great way to post and view videos to share with family and friends has been overrun by filth and smut. Now it will be interesting to see what they are going to do next.

anon318122
Post 24

I am sick of recommended videos having inappropriate screen shots that I simply cannot remove from the list. Google/Youtube forces me to look at them every time I go to Youtube. What really astounds me is how an organization with so many intelligent (I'm going out on a limb here) people also be so obtuse about the need to manage or modify the list of recommended videos.

It's a sure sign of Google/YouTube's development. They become successful listening to users. Then they become so successful that they stop listening and begin telling users what's good for them.

anon307233
Post 23

I have been searching for ways to clean up youtube for a long time. YouTube is a joke when it comes to reporting. Nothing happens.

I have my account set to safety mode, and I have commenting turned off. Thankfully, that gets rid of the horrendous language that is prolific there. (Likely from young people who have nothing better to do than hope to be the sludge portion of society.)

But I have yet to find a way to turn off the recommended videos. I have done many searches, and the solutions people have found must have been circumvented by YT because I don't have those options they mention.

I use FireFox, and there does not seem to be an extension or add-on that addresses this.

I tried deleting cookies, but that was also ineffective, both 'in session' and complete. I guess my next try is to see if any other browser can deal with this ridiculous feature. But that's a pain, as FF is all I use. My work requires being able to view YT videos, or I'd just ban the site altogether.

anon275021
Post 22

I'm a very open-minded, non-religious person, and even I have a problem with youtube. I'm trying to put some family videos on youtube for my 7 and 8 year olds and their grandparents. The problem is the videos of people's deaths are coming up in the side bar.

I don't want to censor that for everyone else, but I don't want that sitting there when we go to watch our family movies. I wish there was a true 'G' mode. It's a bit frustrating. I guess I just need to find an alternative/avoid youtube for that purpose.

anon271120
Post 21

Its not just the unsafe videos or comments but the rubbish that is of concern. What kind of a society are we creating? Absolutely meaningless rubbish is permitted to be published. Google needs to care about the quality of the content of youtube. It is much worse than duplicate content on websites.

anon252721
Post 19

I use Kidobi and can't be happier. It's way safer than YouTube. All videos are already pre-screened / rated and I can easily control what my two year old is watching.

anon230058
Post 18

@anon142453: You have no idea what you are talking about. Only flagged videos are restricted to a login, and since people are posting all the time, every day, not all videos are flagged. Also, people put porn scenes in their video thumbnails, even if the actual video doesn't contain porn.

anon228517
Post 17

Here is an example of my previous post. I am watching a video about "installing an outdoor tankless water heater".

In the sidebar for "related videos", there are two links to hot babes (which I will not link). I have tried to find where I can change my settings so that these PG13 videos are not referenced. My kids are not 13 and even if they were, I would not want them watching these.

anon228291
Post 16

My kids are into pokemon videos in a big way. Youtube is a great way to figure out how to change a battery on your laptop, etc. When I am looking at a video on some home project, after it is done, there are always videos on "hot babes". Youtube has restrictions (that are apparently easily bypassed) on videos of "hotter babes". It is frustrating and I am getting ready to pull the plug on Youtube entirely.

anon153475
Post 15

This writer has a point, which I support. On a side note, what peeves me most are the dumb, random, and obscene comments on my channel. They sound like 12 year olds swearing irrationally. But what can be done?

anon142453
Post 14

That's crazy Youtube is no more dangerous for children than bugs bunny's cartoon violence. Second, certain videos on Youtube that the site believes should only be viewed by adults can only be viewed while logged in. Duh! So unless you allow your kid to create an account they can't watch those videos.

anon111959
Post 12

Youtube is like any other website. A gimmick. I use it to find information all the time

However, if your child is not really into homework, plays videogames too much instead of programming games, and watches cartoons instead of cleaning room. No way it is safe.

If it is possible just block Youtube, and get rid of your children's wireless, since they can tap into your neighbor's open network.

anon78234
Post 11

Thank you for the article. Wagworx has created a browser add-on for Internet Explorer and Firefox to help steer your little web surfer away from those videos that contain profanity.

anon75186
Post 7

you tube does absolutely nothing to protect kids online.On their site kids can easily view anything you can view anywhere on the internet.

anon64087
Post 6

I find it odd that as much as I search I'm not finding many mentions to kids who own youtube channels. I've been highly concerned with some kids who are probably 10 or 11 with vlogs. I don't know how to contact youtube about and I find those channels disturbing.

anon37050
Post 4

A better site than YouTube for kids videos is AmebaTV. It's commercial free and I program what my kids can see.

anon9632
Post 2

how can you get the you tube off your kids' phones?

anon1950
Post 1

Can I sell products on Youtube, similar to ebay?

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