Help Your Kids Create a Smart and Safe YouTube Account (A Comprehensive Guide)
How to Set Up a Safe Account for Your Kids
Settings to Adjust in Your Kids Profile and Channel
There are a couple of options that you can change to make your kids' YouTube account safer. In their profile, be sure that they are not using their full name. YouTube now gives you the option of going by your full name with google+, but I would recommend either using an alias, a screen name, or just the first name.
- Don't use your full name when YouTube asks you to change your name.
- In the settings option of your account, click on "Privacy". Check the boxes next to "keep all my likes private" and "keep all my subscriptions private". This will make sure that no one knows exactly what your kids are watching so they are less likely to be targeted with messages advertising video to them, and prevents people from knowing what your kid is into. (note: if you keep this information private, you will be unable to subscribe to your kids channel and keep an eye on what they're watching, commenting and liking.)
- Check "Allow only my contacts to send me messages and share videos". This will prevent anyone from messaging your kids randomly, except for the people who they've added to their contacts, like friends.
- Uncheck "Let people find my channel on YouTube if they have my email address". This will prevent anyone from potentially finding your kids channel with their email address.
- Go to your channel and click on "settings" or "channel settings".
- Make sure that everything under "Post to my activity feed when I... " is unchecked, this will make sure that nothing shows up in people's feeds of what your child is watching, commenting or liking on.
Topics to Talk to Your Kids About
- Don't share or exchange personal information (cellphone number, address, street name, what school you go to, your last name, etc.)
- Be sure to not film anything that may have your information on it. Your cat's id tag may have your phone number showing in it, your cellphone, mail, etc. Always be sure to review a video before uploading to YouTube for any personal information that may have been accidentally filmed.
- Not everyone is who they say they are. Fake accounts and predators do exist. Use caution when being invited to personal chat rooms, Skype or instant messengers. Be wary of meetups of any kind or any invitations to meet in person.
When Uploading Videos
Geotagging - When you're uploading a video, be sure to not geotag where it was taken. There's really no reason to show people or let them know where you recorded the video, especially if the user is a child.
Be sure to choose the right privacy setting.
Unlisted - means your video is available to anyone who has the link to your video. This is not a completely private video as people who have access to the link are able to send it to their friends. It will also not be included in searches on YouTube.
Private - means that only people who you invite to see the video can see it. This is the best option if you're sharing personal videos, such as family gatherings, weddings, etc. Any video that has your personal information in it should always be released as private. You are then able to send your video to family and friends without releasing your information to the public.
Public - means that your video will be available to everyone and will show up when people search for video on YouTube.
Have a conversation with your kids, where you sit down and watch videos together. Rather than being sneaking, engage them and take an interest in what they're watching. They'll feel better knowing that you trust them and that you're interested and you'll get to know what they're watching.
How to Monitor Your Kids Activity on Youtube
If you have your kids' YouTube password, you can easily check the history and see what they have been viewing. You can find the history when you click on your username, (where you would log out) and choose history.
If you don't have your kids' YouTube password, one of the easiest ways to monitor what they are uploading and watching is to subscribe to their channel. If you subscribe to a channel, whenever you log into your account, you'll be notified as to what they upload and you can also see what videos they "like" and what they are commenting on. On your YouTube account, there's a section to only see videos that have been uploaded or you can select the "recent activity" which will show the likes, comments and uploads of whoever you're subscribed to.
However, if you or your kids have disabled the "share activity" in their profiles, this method will not work.
Report Abuse to YouTube
The link to report abuse to YouTube is:
Here you can report Cyber bullying, harassment, threats and impersonations. YouTube will then look into your report and take any necessary action.
Additional Safety Information on YouTube
Cyber Bullying and Trolls: What You Need to Know
What is Cyber Bullying?
Cyber Bullying is a form of harassment online. It can consist of negative comments, hateful messages and name calling. It's a form of Trollsing (see below). Essential it's the same thing as being bullied at school, but since the internet allows for annomosty the cyber bully can say even more hurtful things as they are unknown. Talk to your kids about cyber bullying and trolls, and help them understand how to deal with negative comments.
Most people who are cyber bullies are bored and have nothing better to do than to try to provoke kids into fighting. It can happen everywhere, online games, YouTube, forums, chat messenger, etc.
If there is ever a real threat, you can always report cyber bullying to YouTube where they will access the situation and possibly have the user's account suspended.
What are Trolls?
Trolls are the people who's entire online presence exist on leaving negative comments on videos. Their sole purpose is to start fights in comments and try to get under your skin. It's important for your kids to know, if they are going to make online videos, that not every comment will be positive and that sometimes people leave hateful comments just because they are bored and want to pick a fight with anyone watching the video.
Usually it has nothing to do with the content or the video, so tell your kids not to take it personally and ignore them. It's the equivalent of email spam, where the Trolls will just pick a video and leave comments.
There's a saying among YouTubers "haters are gonna hate" that is tossed around, regarding Trolls and Cyber Bullies that exist online just to start fights. It's a way to brush off the negativity.
Self Help and Preventative Measures You Can Take
If your kids do encounter a Troll or are being Cyber Bullied, you can block the users YouTube name so they are no longer able to message/comment on your videos, and you can also remove their comments and either flag them as spam or just remove them. In extreme measures you can disable comments on certain videos.
You can easily block or remove comments by hovering over the comments of your video. You'll be given options like "mark as spam", "blocker user" and "remove".
If things escalate, you are able to report incidents to YouTube.
YouTube's Safety Mode Feature
What is Safety Mode?
Safety Mode is a filtering system on YouTube. It blocks mature content and videos from showing up in searches, very similar to safe search in google images. Users will also not be able to send mature videos to your account. Mature content is filtered by the YouTube community. Users flag videos as they view them if they contain mature content.
If a video has been flagged, any user under 18 will not be able to view the video. A browser that has been locked into safety mode will also not be able to view the video. If you wish to watch a video with mature content, you would have to turn off safety mode, then re-enable it to block mature content again.
While you do not need a YouTube account to enable safety mode, you will be unable to lock safety mode. This means that if you know where to change the option, anyone can turn safety mode off. In order to prevent your kids or other people from switching safety mode off, you'll need to create a YouTube account. You will also need to lock safety mode for each internet browser that is used on your computer. Once locked, to turn safety mode off, you'll have to log back into the account that originally locked it, enter your password and change the option to off.
How to Turn on Safety Mode
- The safety mode option is on every page of YouTube. To turn it on and off without an account, you just scroll down to the bottom of any YouTube page and look for the word "Safety".
- The box will expand. Click "on" to turn on safety mode.
- Select save. You'll now get a confirmation on the top of youtube that says safety mode has been enabled.
Different Internet Browsers
One of the ways to bypass YouTube's Safety Mode is to install a different browser, be sure to check for the different browsers that are installed on your computer. Here's a list of the most popular browsers.
- Internet Explorer
You can find a compiled list of internet browsers at AppStorm.
How to Lock a Browser into Safety Mode
- To be able to lock your browser into safety mode, you must first have a YouTube account. You will be able to have your own YouTube account, as well as your kids. You will need to use a different account than your kids to lock safety mode, as you can only unlock the browser with one account (ideally your own account so your kids cannot turn off the safety mode).
- If you don't have a YouTube account, go ahead and create one. It's free and will also allow you to keep an eye on what your kids are up to. If you already have an account, go ahead and log into it.
- Scroll down to the bottom of whatever page on YouTube you are on. At the bottom you'll see a bar that has "YouTube" "Language" "Country" "Safety" and "Help".
- Left click on "Safety". It will expand and you'll be given the option to either turn safety mode on or off.
- Select "On" and be sure to check next to the box that says "Lock Browser".
- Hit save, then log out of your YouTube account to finish locking the browser. You should now be able to scroll down to the bottom, click on safety and you'll notice that it says at the bottom that safety mode has been locked by whatever your username is.
- If you have another internet browser installed on your computer, be sure to repeat this process. You must lock safety mode with each browser.
How do I log out of YouTube?
In the upper right hand corner of the screen, select the arrow next to your name. It will expand and at the bottom you'll see "Sign out".
Different Ways Your Kids Can Get Around Safety Mode
Creating a fake YouTube account with a different age than their own.
Talk to your kids and create a YouTube account with them. You will be able to make sure the birthdate is right, however if they make a new account on their own, there's no way to fix this problem.
If Youtube finds out about a fake age on the account, the account will be suspended.
Installing a new internet browser.
Monitor what is being installed on your computer. If a new internet browser is installed, be sure to lock Safety Mode on it.
At this time, Safety Mode is locked per browser, so you must lock safety mode for each.
Hacking into your YouTube account or leaving your account signed in.
In some cases, your kids may know your password and can log into your account and turn safety mode off. To prevent this, use a unique password and monitor if safety mode is still on occasionally.
A personal experience
I've been on YouTube for over 10 years, since I was 10 years old. Some can say I was a little reckless with my personal information (I gave my address to a couple people I got to know, who could have been potentially been predators), but I never have experienced any real threats from cyber bullying or trolling. I've seen it more than it has occurred to me. Personally, I find YouTube to be a much safer website than Funnyjunk, Reddit or forums. The most important thing is to tell your kids to be smart about who they talk to, and use their judgement when someone is asking for any of their personal information. Think twice when anyone wants to meet you, or wants to mail you a prize in the mail. This goes for the entire internet, not just YouTube.
If your kids want to upload videos and be in the videos, their identity will be out there and there's a possibility that they can be recognized for who they are. However, have them use their judgement, videos on the internet, even if they are taken down, can still be out there. People can copy the video and save it and upload it again. Don't post anything on the internet that they would regret looking back on in 5 year or 10 years. Showing around a stupid video that someone in your school made, could turn into a viral video or something that is passed around at school and made fun of. My best advice would be to see what videos they want to make, and if it's something like short films, let them go for it. If it's something that you would be embarrassed about them seeing years from now, talk to them about it. Make sure they know that once it's out there, it could haunt them and their decisions today will affect how they are seen by their peers.
The most important factor to always consider is that your kids are always going to find ways to get around certain safety measures if they feel there is a need to. Be open and willing to engage with them and show interest in what they want to do. Have conversations about what they're watching and why they want to create videos. You want to be the first person they come to for advice and not some stranger they only know through comments or messages.
If you have any stories about YouTube or tips for online safety, please leave them below. I will try to update any relevant information as it becomes available.