Thursday, 22 March 2018

Turn on Restricted Mode in YouTube for safer searching


Kids love YouTube. For some unknown reason they can spend countless hours watching people play video games or open Shopkins packs... and what's with those surprise eggs?! There is an insane amount of content on YouTube that I would argue should not been seen by adults, let alone kids. To that effect, let's talk about some ways to make YouTube safer for kids. 

In this post, we are going to look at Restricted Mode. According to YouTube, "Restricted Mode hides videos that may contain inappropriate content that is flagged by users and other signals". 


So what does that mean? Basically YouTube is going to do it's best to filter out what it deems inappropriate. They do this using their own methods to filter content and via user feedback on specific videos. This includes videos with nudity, excessive violence and the ability to read and post comments. That last point may seem silly but the user comment section of a video on YouTube can be one of the most toxic places on the internet.  

I know what you are thinking, does it really work? To a point, yes it does. I did a quick test to compare the search results of the word 'naked' with Restricted Mode off and then again with Restricted Mode on. 

With Restricted Mode off, three of the top five videos contain nudity with two videos actually having nudity in the thumbnail image. 


The same search with Restricted Mode on eliminated the nudity all together and the top five videos in the results are just music videos with the word naked in the title.  



Sounds good right? So let's turn it on! Before we start, one thing to remember is that nothing is 100% perfect. Some videos may sneak through these filters so it's still important to keep an eye on what our kiddos are up to regardless. 


Parent Tool: YouTube Restricted Mode

How to enable Restricted Mode on a browser (without a Google account)
On the device your child uses, launch the web browser and bring up YouTube. In this example, I am using Chrome.

In the top right corner of the page, click the three vertical dots and then click on the option  labelled Restricted Mode: Off.



Click on the ACTIVATE RESTRICTED MODE toggle to turn it on. The page should refresh after you do this.


Once the page is done reloading, click on your profile image again and you will now see that Restricted Mode is on.


That's it! So simple right! Well, that's the problem. While it is effective, it's also really easy to turn on and off. Kids are pretty crafty, especially preteens and teens, who will likely quickly find out how to turn Restrictive Mode off again. To prevent a child from disabling Restrictive Mode you just need to log into a Google account first and then lock Restrictive Mode on the browser. Only a person with access to the Google account will be able to turn it back off. 


How to enable Restricted Mode and lock it on a browser (requires a Google account)
On the device your child uses, launch the web browser and bring up YouTube and log in via the SIGN IN link in the top right corner. Once signed in, click on your profile image in the top right corner. The menu should expand and you should see Restricted Mode: Off at the bottom. Click on it. 


Click on the ACTIVATE RESTRICTED MODE toggle to turn it on. The page should refresh after you do this.


Once the page is done reloading, click on your profile image again and you will now see that Restricted Mode is on. Click on it again.



You should now see an option to Lock Restricted Mode on this Browser. Click on that to activate it. You will need to verify your password in order to apply the change. 




Now if you sign out of YouTube and click on the three vertical dots you will see Restricted Mode is still on. 


If you click on the option you will also see that the option to disable it is grayed out. The only way to turn it back on is by logging in under the account that locked it. 


Something to note here, you will need to perform this task on every browser on your computer/device. A bit of a hassle, I know, but I think our kiddos are worth it, don't you?

I will offer up more safe guarding  tips on YouTube in the future, including a look into YouTube Kids (which after playing with it for only 10 minutes seems awesome!), so please keep checking back.



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