Six features to help keep your child safe on YouTube

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What is YouTube?

YouTube is a video sharing platform where you can watch, create and share videos. While you can’t send private messages on the platform, you can communicate with other users via the comment section under the video player.

What age-rating is YouTube?

To create a YouTube account you need to be 13+. However, you don’t need an account to watch videos on the platform.

What can you do on YouTube?

 Activity Risks 


You can watch videos. YouTube hosts a whole range of different videos. From TV shows to funny videos.

People who regularly post on YouTube are known as YouTubers.


After you finish watching a video on YouTube, it will suggest other types of videos for you to watch.

Sometimes these might play automatically. A child might also click on content which appears appropriate, but actually contains adult themes. This puts children and young people at risk of seeing content that might be inappropriate.

Create and upload

Anyone with an account can film and upload a video to the platform.

Accounts can be set to private or public.

Children and young people can set up their own account on YouTube to upload videos. This could put them at risk of others finding out too much personal information about them. For example, filming a video where they are wearing their school uniform.

They also might feel pressure to compete with friends or other influencers/YouTubers they follow. This could negatively affect their wellbeing.


The platform has a feature that lets you livestream in real-time.

If the account is public this can be viewed by anyone. If it’s private then the livestream can only be watched by followers. 

As they happen in real-time you can't filter out any inappropriate or adult conversation that takes place. This could put your child at risk of coming across content that they might find upsetting or confusing. 


You can subscribe to other accounts to be notified when the user uploads a new video.

Accounts on YouTube are known as channels.

This could put them at risk of viewing inappropriate content. Or recieving unwanted contact from another subscriber. 

Like, comment and share 

There are no private messaging features on the platform. However, you can like and comment on other videos.

Youtubers can turn off comments on their videos.


This could put them at risk of coming across harmful language or comments. 


Safety settings and features on YouTube

1. Supervised Experience

A supervised experience YouTube account is available for under 13s with a Google account managed by Family Link. This can help manage how they use the app.

This will give you access to content settings and parental controls to help you manage what channels they can subscribe to and how long they spend on the app.

For information on how to set this up visit YouTube’s advice page.

2. Restricted Mode

This helps to filter out inappropriate videos. However, it’s not 100% effective due to the volume of videos on the platform.

To enable this feature go to ‘Settings’. Click the drop down menu at the bottom of the screen and select ‘Restricted Mode: Off’. Change the option to ‘On’ and press ‘Save’.

3. Custom password

You can set up a custom passcode to stop your child from accessing your parental controls and making changes. To do this, tap the lock icon, and choose ‘Set my own passcode’.

4. Set videos to private

If your child posts their own videos on YouTube you might want to speak to them about setting the content they upload to private so only their subscribers or followers can view their videos. Remember to talk to your child about who is allowed to follow or subscribe to their channel.

To do this you need to go to ‘Library’ and select ‘Your Videos’. Then select ‘More’ and 'Visibility'. You can then choose from the following options:

Public – everyone, including those who don’t have a YouTube account, can see the video.
Private – only subscribers can watch.
Unlisted – this makes the video private so no one can see it unless they have a direct link to the video.

5. Auto-play
Auto-play stops videos from automatically playing after one has ended. This will stop your child from watching videos suggested to them by the app.

To turn this on, go to the watch screen on any video. Then tap the auto-play switch so it says ‘Off’.

6. Create playlists
You can create playlists on YouTube to help manage the videos your child can watch. We recommend watching videos before your child does to make sure they're appropriate and then adding them to a new playlist.

To add a video to a playlist select ‘Save’ at the bottom of the video you want to add. Select the playlist you want to add it to or choose ‘create new playlist’.

Is YouTube Kids safer?

YouTube Kids is a separate app and website created by YouTube that offers more filters and restrictions to help stop children coming across inappropriate content.

There are also additional parental control features available depending on your child’s age. You can choose between three age-based content settings:

  • Preschool (Ages 4 and under)
  • Younger (Ages 5–8)
  • Older (Ages 9–12)

You can create individual user profiles for more than one child.

While the platform uses a range of different filters to stop adult content from playing, these aren’t always 100% effective. We always recommend supervising your child when they're watching videos or watching them to make sure they are suitable.

There are also no communication features available.


"I would advise all parents to download the apps that their children are using just to familiarise yourself with how they work."
Parent of a child with SEND

Top tips

To make sure the videos your child is watching are appropriate you should try to watch them before.

You could also check the comments of a video for reviews to get an idea of whether it will be suitable.

YouTube uses algorithms to suggest content to us based on what we’ve previously watched. Make sure to keep this in mind if your child is sharing a device with older siblings or another family member.

If your child is using YouTube to create and share videos, talk to them about sharing safely online. Make sure they know not to share personal information like location or social media handles with people they haven’t met before.

You might also want to set some rules around whether their channel is private and who can subscribe to them.

Childline has advice on managing digital footprints that you could share with them.

Remember YouTube can be accessed on different devices including games consoles and smart TVs. Make sure that safety settings are set up on each device they are using.

If your child comes across something upsetting on YouTube report it to the platform. To report a video tap ‘More’ and then ‘Report’.

Make sure your child knows they can come to you if they see something upsetting online. Check out our advice on Reporting online safety concerns for other ways to report inappropriate or harmful content. 

Worried about a child?

Contact our Helpline by calling 0808 800 5000 or emailing [email protected].

Children can contact Childline any time to get support themselves.

Get support