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Is YouTube™ a Safe Site for Children to Use?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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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.

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.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a EasyTechJunkie contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon995662 — On May 17, 2016

I just listened to my child next to me watching a Micky Mouse cartoon on Youtube (With parental restrictions on) when lo and behold, I hear this obscene song! I asked my son (who is 6) to see the iPad because I thought I had heard wrong, but there it was again. I can't believe that Youtube allows things like this knowingly that this day and age since young kids are a majority of their audience. I'm a pretty liberal dad, but this is disgusting! And after looking at my son's history it didn't just stop there with sexual innuendos. There were also vulgar sexual drawings in some kids' animations and the profanity! Something needs to be done, period!

By anon992284 — On Aug 27, 2015

Parents and teachers could use web based applications such as safeyoutube dot net to generate safe YouTube links valid for sharing and watching.

By anon990033 — On Apr 02, 2015

I'm posting questions like these in many different forums and websites, because I am not getting any clear answers. Youtube Staff has been less than helpful. I turn on Safety Mode when I have young children around. But just to prove a point, I tested it.

I typed in "porn" to see what would turn up! The very first thing I noticed was this tagline:

"Some results have been removed because Safety Mode is enabled."

Some? Really? How Safe is Safe mode? Shouldn't all results containing the keyword "porn' be inaccessible with the safe-mode on? Nonetheless, I wanted to see for myself what images could be accessed with the safe search on! [using internet explorer for round one of safe-search testing.]

With the safe search on and locked, I was able to see an image of a topless woman. Even though when I clicked on the video, the video was darkened, the original image of the topless woman on the video-link is clearly visible. This would mean that my nephew could see a picture of a topless woman with the safe search on!

All I did was type in "porn" in the search bar with the safe search on! And I am terribly disappointed in the imagery that is accessible to young impressionable minds on youtube's so-called "safe-search". I am requesting the site make all videos with the keywords 'porn','pornography','pornographic' and several variant purposeful misspellings of 'pornagraphy', 'pornagraphic', 'pornegraphy', 'pornegraphic' completely inaccessible with the safe-search turned on.

Feel free to pass this information along until the site is more concerned about making their site more suitable for young children.

By anon943709 — On Apr 03, 2014

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.

By mammameea — On Feb 03, 2014

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.

By anon349231 — On Sep 24, 2013

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.

By anon318122 — On Feb 05, 2013

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.

By anon307233 — On Dec 04, 2012

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.

By anon275021 — On Jun 15, 2012

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.

By anon271120 — On May 25, 2012

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.

By anon252721 — On Mar 06, 2012

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.

By anon230058 — On Nov 17, 2011

@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.

By anon228517 — On Nov 09, 2011

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.

By anon228291 — On Nov 08, 2011

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.

By anon153475 — On Feb 17, 2011

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?

By anon142453 — On Jan 13, 2011

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.

By anon111959 — On Sep 18, 2010

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.

By anon78234 — On Apr 17, 2010

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.

By anon75186 — On Apr 05, 2010

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

By anon64087 — On Feb 05, 2010

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.

By anon37050 — On Jul 16, 2009

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

By anon9632 — On Mar 10, 2008

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

By anon1950 — On Jun 21, 2007

Can I sell products on Youtube, similar to ebay?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a EasyTechJunkie contributor, Tricia...
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