Finally! YouTube Kids Parental Controls Just Got WAY Better

You Tube kids

“Screen time”—it’s a phrase that pretty much makes my blood pressure rise. As a modern parent, monitoring my kids’ screen time is a royal pain in my rear, but unless I’m just willing to throw out the TV and computer (not yet but I haven’t ruled it out completely, I’m telling ya!!), it’s just something I have to do, because heaven knows my kids are not going to regulate their own screen time. So, awhile back when YouTube came out with the YouTube Kids app, I was pretty happy. I mean, at least I wouldn’t have to worry about what sorts of programs they had access to now, right?

Wrong. While the YouTube kids app was mostly fine, there were still plenty of programs on there that I didn’t necessarily want my kids to have access to (not all kids programs are created equal, ya know?) There were also some loopholes and things that slipped through the cracks. Though it was a good first effort, the YouTube kids app in its original iteration did leave a lot to be desired. However, last week YouTube issued a press release about new YouTube Kids parental controls and I think it fantastic news for parents!

Now parents can limit YouTube Kids programming to “Parent Approved” content only

This is AMAZING news for parents! If you only want your child to have access to a handful of shows on YouTube Kids, you can simply hand-pick them and set the app to “parent approved content only” (as demonstrated in the screen shot above).

You Tube Kids
Photo: You Tube Kids

YouTube says in the press release, “This highly requested parental control allows parents to handpick every video and channel available to their child in the app. It is available today globally on Android and coming soon to iOS.

For parents who want to enable this feature, open settings, go to the child’s profile and select ‘approved content only.’ Now they’re ready to start picking videos for their kids.”

I say: “YASSSSSSS!!!” and “THANK YOU!!”

Another great feature of the “parent approved only” mode: according to the press release, “If parents choose to enable this mode, their kids will not be able to search for content on their own.” Seriously, as a mom who is SO concerned about what her kids may or may not see on YouTube, I grinned from EAR TO EAR when I read that line. Hallelujah!

As you can tell, I am just a *little* excited that YouTube has added these long-needed parental controls to the YouTube Kids app. I appreciate that they have listened to parents and stepped up to the plate on this one. If you’re not ready to hand-pick every single piece of content your kids watch on the app though, there are a couple other features you should know about.

Additional parental controls on YouTube Kids app

Other ways parents can limit what their children see on the app include the “older” and “younger” settings. The press release explains what this means in detail:

“What’s more, YouTube Kids is growing up with our users. We have launched a new experience geared toward 8-12 year olds that includes additional new content, like popular music and gaming videos. If parents think their kids are ready, they can pick this ‘Older’ version when setting up a new profile or updating an existing profile. The ‘Younger’ version is the default content experience and will continue to have a wide selection of sing-alongs and age-appropriate learning videos. Parents can change between ‘Younger,’ ‘Older’ and parent-approved content at any time. We’ve started to roll out the new older experience in the U.S. with plans to expand globally.”

Although I’m not sure eight-year-olds should be lumped into the “older” category and I have a hunch that I will stick with “parent approved” mode only, I realize most parents aren’t quite as strict as I am, and I do appreciate You Tube making the distinction for what’s appropriate for preschoolers versus older children.

All in all, I’m pretty jazzed about these parental control updates, mostly because they are great tools for protecting little eyes, brains, and hearts, but also because YouTube listened to concerned parents. The importance of that, in my opinion, cannot be underscored. I’m not ready to start a campaign for sainthood for YouTube, but I sure do appreciate this gesture of concern and goodwill.

Do your kids use the You Tube kids app? What level of parental controls will you be implementing?

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Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.