Steps to safer on-line viewing

Philip Brooks discusses parental columns in his latest Fenland Citizen computer blog

Philip Brooks discusses parental columns in his latest Fenland Citizen computer blog

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Our kids are growing up as part of the internet generation and, if they are anything like mine, love watching videos online.

As much as we would love to give them free rein on YouTube to watch their cat videos, there is so much stuff that kids shouldn’t have access to – despite it being vetted for extremely explicit and offensive content. The good news is that YouTube has a “Safety Mode” setting – its version of parental controls. It doesn’t guarantee to prevent all content of an explicit nature from reaching your children’s eyes, although it is better than having nothing at all.

To enable YouTube Safety Mode in your web browser:

On the YouTube.com site, click on the drop-down menu in the “Safety” section at the bottom of the homepage.

Click the “On” button. If you receive a message that says “You can lock the Safety Mode setting after you sign in” then you are not logged into Google/YouTube. Click the “sign in” link if needed.

Check the box that says “Lock safety mode on this browser”, then click “Save”.

Once you’ve clicked the save button, the page you were on will reload with a banner near the top of the page showing a check mark with the words “Successfully enabled Safety Mode” next to it.

IMPORTANT! To prevent your child from turning safety mode off, you must lock the setting for the browser you are using by logging out of your Google/YouTube account (click your username link in the top right-hand corner of the browser window to do this). If you have several browsers, you need to open each browser and repeat this process to make sure Safety Mode is turned on in each one.

To enable YouTube Safety Mode on your mobile device:

Safety Mode may also be available on your mobile device’s YouTube app. Check the settings within the mobile app to see if it’s an option. The process for locking the feature should be similar to the previous one.

NOTE AGAIN: YouTube warns parents the Safety Mode feature is not 100% reliable – some offensive content could still get through its filters.

To install YouTube Kids App on your mobile device:

YouTube has released a free mobile and tablet app for iOS and Android called “YouTube Kids”, designed to provide a safer viewing experience. Its built-in features make it harder for children to view inappropriate videos. It also blocks many search terms that parents would rather they didn’t type in.

Other features of the app include a “timer”, allowing parents to limit time spent on YouTube Kids before the app automatically turns off, as well as an option for parents to turn off search.

Just remember, though, there is absolutely NO substitute for watching your kids like a hawk when they are on the internet.