An app aims to help parents control what kids see on YouTube

I got an e­mail this week from a mom who asked something most parents wonder. 

"We could use some advice on YouTube and kids! My girls love the independence of using their own iPads, but I need help keeping an eye on what they’re watching." Thanks for the e­mail Jill.

Yes, that is a problem with few solutions. Not only does YouTube not offer filters, it doesn’t have a ratings system like Hollywood movies do.

Google does have a separate YouTube app called YouTube for Kids. It’s designed for children and will only play age-appropriate content, such as cartoons, educational videos, dancing and, yes, you can find funny cat videos.

YouTube Kids displays channels and shows, and there’s some really good content. Ellen Degeneres has a channel that features segments from her show when she’s interviewed children.

Parents must set up the app, and they have the option to turn turn off search so that YouTube Kids will only play videos that are approved for the app. 

Parents also have some control over how long their kids can spend watching videos by setting a timer. If you restrict them to, say, 30 minutes, the videos stop when the timer runs down, and the app goes to sleep. 

Parents can also look at the history to see what videos their kids have watched.

Google does say there’s no guarantee your kids won’t see something you don’t approve. If that happens, parents can flag a video as inappropriate and someone with Google will review the video.

There are third­ party apps that claim to do that by only playing playlists parents set up. But I can’t vouch for their effectiveness. And while there is no easy and sure ­fire way to keep kids from seeing something on YouTube you’d rather they not see, the safest option is to delete the YouTube app and install YouTube Kids. 

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