The Problem with Letting Your Children Watch YouTube

There is no doubt that technology has changed the way we look after our children. Many parents use tablets, iPads, and mobile phones to keep their children occupied. It’s convenient, easy and it works. 

For many parents, gone are the days of humiliation and frustration caused from ‘those looks’ from others in the waiting room when their child talks too loud, runs around, makes high pitched noises, crying, screaming, and tantrums. It’s now quite common to see kids in waiting rooms sitting quietly with eyes transfixed on a hand held screen. 

YouTube is one of the most engaging places for children with an extremely large array of videos that are great for kids including pre school & early education videos, nursery rhymes, songs, cartoons, movies, even cooking tutorials for kids.

All this truly is wonderful but we can’t ignore that fact that there is a huge problem with kids using YouTube. Parents often forget that YouTube is an video sharing platform open to all with a tremendous number of videos that are most definitely not suitable for children. Some videos are even disguised as kids videos with ‘kid friendly’ titles and images.

Quick… Stop it! Close down, cover it up!

Imagine your child, while watching a video they notice a thumbnail image of that looks like fun. They tap to view and less than a minute of Peppa Pig dancing and singing it cuts to Peppa Pig being stabbed or cuts to an edit of inappropriate sexual behavior right before your child’s eyes. I’m sure that would horrify you sending shivers down your spine.

Allowing your child to use YouTube is risky even when you are looking over their shoulder at every moment. Unfortunately some parents have come across inappropriate content during direct supervision only to find it took too many seconds to prevent their child from seeing more. Sadly their child has already viewed enough to either become shocked, scared, or intrigued. As a responsible parent we just can’t take the risk.

Thankfully there are some great solutions.

There are apps that can be used specifically for kids that filter videos to ensure that inappropriate content doesn’t get in front of children. YouTube kids has been developed specifically for this purpose. If you let your child watch YouTube videos you should, at the very least use YouTube Kids which is available from the App Store and Google Play. The only issue with YouTube Kids is the videos are filtered by robots so some videos that we shouldn’t let our children view can get through.

Safe Vision is Safe!

Safe Vision is, as the name suggests, is safe. All videos and video channels are screened by humans not robots. Parents can also add videos and channels they know are safe. It’s the perfect solution to entertain with total peace of mind. 

You can install Safe Vision here…

Modeling Good Tech Habits for Our Kids

TLDR: If we want our children to have a positive and healthy relationship with technology, then we need to model these behaviors for them. We need to practice what we preach.

I spend a lot of time wondering what the technological future will hold for my children. The world is changing so quickly, and more and more people have a device in their hands throughout the entire day. Nowadays many of us just wear technology around our wrist so we can have it attached to us at all times. Is this what I want for my kiddos? Do I want them to feel the need to be constantly connected to the digital world?

Whenever I start thinking about how connected this world has become, I start to become nostalgic for the ways things used to be. Do you remember going to dinner with friends and no one looking at a phone? Do you remember having a conversation with your spouse without him staring at a message on his watch? Do you remember a time when kids just had to stare out the window on a long car trip instead of watching a video? Or sit at a restaurant and just patiently wait instead of playing a game on a phone? I long for this technology-free time. I hope that someday my children will get to experience it: a moment to live in the now and disconnect, a moment to breathe in the air and detach from the technology that surrounds us.

Upon reflection, I realize that I cannot expect my kiddos to learn this on their own. Just like I teach them to say “please” and “thank you,” to show respect to their grandparents, and to tie their shoes, I must model this behavior for them. I am definitely aware that they are watching everything I do and say. If I am constantly attached to my phone, then someday they will be as well. If I want them to turn off devices and breathe every once in awhile, then I need to show them this behavior. I realize that I have to think of the advice I’m going to give them as they get older, and then I need to model that behavior for them now. Easier said than done, I’m sure.

Here are some goals for myself so that hopefully as my children get older they can emulate some positive techie behavior:

1. Set limits on screen time

If you want to make sure your kiddos aren’t on a screen 99% of their day, then you have to make sure you aren’t as well. Turn off your phone (or at least put it on “Do Not Disturb”) for certain times during the day. Close your laptop. Let your children see you without a screen in your face. Set a timer and be tech-free for an hour or two each evening.

2. No technology during meals

You want your kids to focus on eating when you are eating? Then you have to make the same commitment as well. No checking emails or scrolling the news while you eat your breakfast. Concentrate on some mindful eating practices. Make the rule that there are never devices at the table when eating. This applies to restaurants as well.

3. Keep screens out of the bedrooms

Your kids would be too tempted if there were a tablet right next to their beds, and you would be tempted as well. How many of us sleep with our phone next to the bed? How many of us hope our teenagers do not sleep next to their phones someday? I definitely want my child sleeping and not texting or watching videos as he gets older. Plan to gather all devices at night and keep them in a common area to charge (like a kitchen.) These devices are off-limits when it’s time to relax and start getting ready for bed. Everyone will sleep better without the distraction of technology.

4. Focus on one thing at a time

We will want our kids to be fully present in whatever they choose to do. We need to demonstrate the same. If someone is speaking to us, we must put the phone away. If I’m working on a project on my laptop, I should not be streaming a video to the television and texting friends on my phone at the same time. Focusing means choosing one thing to which we devote our attention. Choose one thing and give it your all.

5. Never use a device while driving (duh!)

I think we all know this, but I feel like it can never be said enough. I see my husband grab his phone while driving, and our kids are in the back of the car. “What are you doing?!” I’ll say. I cannot stand it. Not only is he putting our entire family in danger, but he is also modeling for our children that this is okay. I do not want my boys to be distracted drivers, so I need my husband to stop doing this. (I also want all of us to stay alive so I also need him to stop for that reason too.)

6. Limit social media use

Just because something happens doesn’t mean you have to post it. I see adults make this error all of the time. Quit posting your life and start living it. Once my kids have access to social media, they need to still have a life that is not lived out for their “followers”. They need to be cautious and thoughtful. Those profiles never truly disappear. Adults need to remember this as well and model thoughtful social media etiquette.

Bottom line

Ultimately we only get so many hours here on this earth. As parents, we want our children to live long, healthy, and happy lives. We want them to have friends and create memories. But to do this, they must be present. They have to shut down their devices and make true connections with real-life people. How are they going to know how to do this while living in this challenging world surrounded by technological influences everywhere? We as parents are going to show them. We are going to wisely use technology, but also shut it down and live in the moment. None of us want life to pass us by while we are sitting behind a screen. And we certainly don’t want that for our children.

(all photos are from unsplash.com)

How Safe Vision App Protects Kids from Malicious Videos

There is a lot of talk about Momo challenge on the Internet. Reportedly there are videos on YouTube that look like innocent children cartoon but have horrifying image in the middle.

The news are quite disturbing. However it looks like there is no proof that those videos actually found their way to YouTube Kids app.

Momo Isn’t What Parents Need to Worry About on YouTube – Intelligencer

Is Safe Vision safe from this problem?

Safe Vision app starts with all YouTube videos locked. Parents then unlock pre-set list of known good channels based on child’s age range. They can also choose to unlock channels and videos one by one, at their discretion.

I personally review the channels that are available by default in the app. The chances that creators of child-targeted channel, e.g. Pinkfong would suddenly post something inappropriate are extremely low.

There are rumours that official Peppa Pig channel has been hacked and some of their videos contain Momo challenge but I couldn’t find any proof of that.

Bottom line: suicidal videos are definitely locked by default in Safe Vision app.

Is YouTube Safe for Kids?

No, YouTube is not safe for kids to watch without close parent supervision. YouTube terms of service prohibit using YouTube website to children under 13 years old.

YouTube

It’s seems like from birth my kiddos have had a technological device in their hands. Intuitively they’ve known how to swipe, click, and select their favorite things on their favorite devices. I do limit the time my children are exposed to devices, but I’m also not one to say that technology is nothing but evil. I think there are some real positives to kids using technology and services like YouTube. Even though I impose limits to screen time and place restrictions on their technology use, I still wonder about what they are accessing on these devices.

Lately, I’ve started to become more concerned that maybe I need to be exploring better options for my kids. Their love of YouTube (and my love of many of its offerings for children) is a tough habit to break. I have more recently begun to wonder: Is YouTube okay for my kids? Can it be used in a positive way? How safe is YouTube for children?

Child with phone

The good side of YouTube

Occasionally, I’ll hear my toddler state a fact about a dinosaur that I’m pretty sure we’ve never taught him. Or even mention a dinosaur that I have never heard of before. When I follow up with him, he explains that he learned about it on YouTube. I search for that dinosaur, and there it is! He really did learn about it in a video.

When we have a rainy day and want to do something fun, YouTube will teach us many fun activities to try. For our first attempt at making slime, we watched a video together, and then we gave it a try. It was a huge success.

Sometimes I’m at the doctor’s office with my children, and they need to get shots. And they’re miserable. I’ll try distracting them with funny faces, hugs, and silly songs. Finally, I offer them the chance to watch Elmo on my phone. I search YouTube for Elmo, and there he is. My child hears his voice, sees his fuzzy red face, and relaxes a bit. The distraction is good. The calming effect is helpful, and all is right with the world.

YouTube obviously is a tool that has a positive side to it. But what are its downfalls?

The negatives of YouTube

When my kids click on YouTube videos, they might see animals in the wild or see their favorite characters singing a catchy tune. They might hear a character teaching a foreign language or introducing numbers and shapes. Wouldn’t it be great if these informative and appropriate videos were a guaranteed result?

Unfortunately, this isn’t always going to happen. I have overheard curse words coming out of YouTube videos when I have stepped away and a new video has loaded. I have seen scary and inappropriate pop-up ads for horror movies and other products geared toward adults. Additionally, I know there are a lot of crazy videos out there that I definitely do not want my kids viewing. There are disturbing videos with foul language, sex, violence, rudeness, bullying, and more.

This bad side to YouTube makes me want to sit next to my child and watch every single video with him for the rest of his life. But I realize that this is not a realistic expectation.

What should we do as parents?

Because YouTube does have many positive aspects, and because I believe that everything is good in moderation — even technology, I am not at a place in life where I want to ban YouTube from my house. On its own, there are many risks and areas that are unsafe on YouTube for children of all ages. However, I would say that YouTube is a safe place for children if restrictions and safe viewing programs are in place. With a little research, parents can find a safe viewing tool that can create a safe YouTube experience for their kiddos.

(All photos from unsplash.com.)

How to Block YouTube on Amazon Fire Tablet

There is no doubt that YouTube has a lot of great content for the whole family, but there is also a lot of content that could be inappropriate for children. Being able to block YouTube from your Amazon Fire device is going to be useful. This is also good if you are looking to give these devices to several children at different times. Either way, we are going to show you how to get this done by using Amazon FreeTime.

1-The first step is to tap on the “FreeTime” tab that is situated on your home screen:

2-The second step is to tap “Add a Child” on the following screen:

3-Now enter the child’s name and their date of birth. You can also choose the type of theme you prefer.

4-You can now decide what content you want to add for your child to use. This means that you can choose any game or application you want. You can always add more content later if you wish:

5-The following screen is going to give you the option to decide if your child will be given access to the web browser. If you decide to allow it, you can also use the Amazon filter to allow your kid to access only specific sites that are available. These are also settings that you can change at any time:

6-You can always enable and disable the web browser at any moment by opening FreeTime, tapping on the cog next to your child name and scrolling down to the “Web Settings” section:

7- Amazon approves sites like Nickelodeon, PBS kids and Science Bob by default. You can choose to block all websites and then add any websites you want to allow your child to access.

8-You can easily access the list of children and choose any name you want to switch to the desired profile:

Blocking YouTube on Amazon Fire without using Free Time

If for some reason you don’t want to use Amazon FreeTime, you can still block YouTube on your Fire tablet by blocking web browsing completely. Your child won’t be able to access any website, though. Here’s how to do it:

1-Open settings and tap on parental controls; this will allow you to set the password. Once you have done that, just tap on “Amazon Content and Apps”:

2-Now go to the web browser section and tap on “unblocked”.

3-You can also block any access to Amazon Stores and protect your purchases to prevent your child from installing the YouTube app.

The good news is that by using any of these methods you are going to be able to protect your child from a large amount of harmful content that they could accidentally stumble upon.


Safe Vision helps parents to control YouTube videos for their children.

Guided Access to the Rescue: Using Your Apple iPad’s Built-In Time Limit Function to Manage Your Kids’ Device Use

Today’s kids are more tech-savvy than ever, and an entire generation of children are currently growing up having never known life without mobile devices and ubiquitous internet access. Unfortunately, that also means a huge number of kids are spending hours each day with their eyes glued to phones and tablets.

If you’re a parent with an iPad in the house, you’ve almost certainly dealt with the frustration of trying to peel your child away from it. Giving them time limits might help, but unless you’re closely monitoring them, the odds are they’ll lose track of time and keep on playing or watching long after they’re supposed to be doing their homework or getting ready for bed.

That’s where Apple’s “guided access” feature can be an absolute godsend. Guided access allows you to set hard time-limits on your iPad that can’t be overridden without a password. That means when your kid’s time is up, it’s up — and the tablet itself becomes the bad guy instead of you!

It’s a great feature because over time your kids learn to accept it, and eventually, when the clock runs out, they’ll just put the tablet down and move on.

Here are the steps to follow to enable guided access and time limits on your iPad:

Step One: Click on the gear icon or ask Siri to open settings, tap on “General” in the left-hand menu, then find and tap “Accessibility” on the right-hand side:

Step Two: Once in the accessibility menu tap “Guided Access” under the “Learning” heading:

Step Three: In the guided access menu, slide the guided access slider to the right to enable it, and then tap “Time Limits”:

Step Four: Set the alarm sound and enable the “Speak” feature. This will allow the iPad to make an audible announcement when the time is about to expire.


Guided access time limits will now be enabled on your device. To access the function and set a time limit, use the following steps:

Step One: With the app your child wants to use open, quickly press the home button three times to bring up the guided access controls at the top and bottom of the screen:

Step Two: In the bottom right corner, tap time limit options and set your desired time limit.

Step Three: Tap the “Start” button in the top right corner to start the clock.

It’s that easy! Once the timer has been started, it’ll tick down until just before it expires, at which point it’ll provide a warning. Once time’s up completely, an overlay will black out the screen explaining that the allowed time has expired.

If you want to allow more time, just triple-press the home button and enter the guided access passcode.

With guided access time limits enabled, you can let your iPad do the policing for you, helping to pre-empt the arguments (or even tantrums) that often result from taking away what has become most kids’ favorite toy. Most importantly, it’ll help your kids avoid the device addiction that so many of today’s youth struggle with. Thanks, Apple!

Kid-friendly YouTube Channels

YouTube has a lot of kid-friendly shows. However I strongly recommend using a filter to prevent access to inappropriate videos. Try Safe Vision app – it’s free and all channels below are available there.

Big Block Singsong

Big Block Singsong is a hilarious and thoughtful series of musical animations by director and animator, Warren Brown and composer and recording artist, Adam Goddard.

Many full episodes are available where colourful characters sing and perform.

Big Block Singsong YouTube channel


Little Charley Bear

Little Charley Bear is an enchanting CGI infant series about an imaginative and playful bear. Under the watchful eye of his friend, the Narrator, this adorable little bear uses his imagination to play and go on adventures where he discovers new things about himself and the world around him through active role play.

Aimed at young children aged up to four years, Little Charley Bear is a gently paced show that inspires creativity, discovery and imagination. It has the feel of a classic children’s television show but with advanced modern animation. Although Little Charley Bear doesn’t talk, he can clearly convey what he is thinking and feeling. The Narrator provides Little Charley Bear with helpful advice and guidance throughout the show. He is his mentor and trusted carer figure, however it is Little Charley Bear and his imagination that drives the story.

Little Charley Bear YouTube channel


Raa Raa the Noisy Lion

Raa Raa and his friends solve noisy mysteries, go on adventures and have lots of fun while mastering language and communication skills. Based in the Jingly Jangly Jungle, each episode follows Raa Raa and his wonderful gang of friends; Topsy the giraffe, Huffty the elephant, Crocky the crocodile, Zebby the Zebra and Ooo Ooo the cheeky little monkey. Each of Raa Raa’s noisy friends has a special communication talent to help the gang convey information and meaning and help Raa Raa solve the problem of the day.

Raa Raa the Noisy Lion official YouTube channel


The Little Grey Fergie

The little grey tractor with a secret – he’s alive!

Little Grey Fergie YouTube channel


Lassie

“Lassie” is an animated series that updates the classic story of the noble dog. Lassie now belongs to Ranger Graham and Dr. Sarah Parker’s family. Their 10 year old daughter Zoe, her best friend Harvey, and the fearless, faithful Lassie fill their days with adventure. From facing down a backcountry brush fire to reaching out to some of the characters who live in the park’s countless canyons, for Lassie and Zoe each day brings new, exciting and sometimes dangerous challenges.

Lassie YouTube channel


The Jungle Book

Join Mowgli and his friends Bagheera, Baloo and Kaa the Python, as they take on the evil Shere Khan who is out to get Mowgli. Set in the lush jungle of Seeonee, Central India, The Jungle Book explores how Mowgli lives and survives in the wild. Filled with wonderful adventures and valuable life lessons.

The Jungle Book YouTube channel


Bumba – the Little Clown

Bumba is a little mischievous but always cheerful clown. He performs in a circus full of sounds and colors. To help him, he can always count on his best friend Bumbalu.

Bumba YouTube channel


Maya the Bee

A young bee named Maya has left her hive to discover the beauty and mysteries of nature. As she explores the meadow where she lives, she meets other insects living there, plays to her heart’s content and shares her joy with her friends. Constantly amazed by her discoveries, Maya’s enthusiasm is contagious.

Maya the Bee YouTube channel


Olivia the Pig

Olivia is a little pig with a big personality and even bigger dreams. Whether she is at home with her family or at school with her friends, Olivia sees every day as an adventure. This 6 3/4 year-old dynamo has an extraordinary imagination and believes anything is possible – if you can dream it, you can achieve it! Confident, spirited and lovable, this precocious pig is an expert at making her voice heard, inspiring girls everywhere to think boldly and dream BIG.

Olivia the Pig Official YouTube channel


Peppa Pig

Peppa lives with her mummy and daddy and her little brother, George. Her adventures are fun, sometimes involve a few tears, but always end happily.

Peppa Pig – official YouTube channel


Hey Duggee

Duggee is a big friendly dog who runs The Squirrel Club – a place where kids take part in all kinds of activities, have adventures & earn activity badges along the way.

Hey Duggee official YouTube channel


Postman Pat

Each story features Postman Pat and his black and white cat Jess and their adventures in the village of Greendale. Pat is more than just a friendly postman delivering the mail, he is always ready to lend a willing hand to all the people he meets on his rounds.

Postman Pat official YouTube channel


Booba

Booba is cute and inquisitive, like a five-year-old kid. He explores the world without anger or resentment, only joy and wonder. He doesn’t talk, although he does make sounds to express his emotions.

Nobody knows where he came from, but he has obviously missed the last 100 years of human progress and explores modern locations with boundless energy and enthusiasm. His awkward movements, combined with a strong desire to learn more about the world around him, often have hilarious results!

Booba YouTube channel


Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom

Young fairy princess Holly and her best friend, Ben Elf, live in Little Kingdom, a tiny land where flowers and grass grow above the tallest towers. Being a princess, Holly has magical powers, but her attempts at magic often go awry — but that is to be expected because even her fairy teacher, Nanny Plum, sometimes has spells that don’t go as planned. Thankfully, Ben is there to help when things don’t go right for Holly; although he doesn’t possess special abilities, he is extremely handy. Together, Holly and Ben go on adventures with their friends, including Gaston the Ladybird, and work together to fix magical mistakes.

Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom official YouTube channel


Fireman Sam

Fireman Sam is a British animated comedy children’s series about a fireman called Sam, his fellow firefighters, and other residents in the fictional Welsh rural village of Pontypandy.

Fireman Sam YouTube channel

Child with iPhone

How to let your child play on your iPhone without it ending in drama

There comes a time when you need to keep your child entertained and all you have is your smartphone. Perhaps you are stuck in the traffic or sitting in a waiting room.

There are lots of great child apps and games that will keep your child busy for sure, but when it comes to finishing and handing the phone back there is usually a little drama. Your child is in the middle of something and doesn’t want to part with this great toy. You end up being the “baddie” because you took away all the fun.

The solution is to get help from the technology. You can set a timer on your iPhone and when it finishes the phone will turn itself off and stay locked until you enter a passcode.

The phone can even announce that their time will soon finish. No problem: your child understands that the fun activity just finished on its own and hands your phone back to you.

Here’s how to set it up.

Open Settings, then Accessibility. Scroll down to the end and tap Guided Access in the “Learning” section:

Guided access settings screenshot

Enable Guided Access and tap Time Limits. Enable Speak there and set alarm sound:

Guided access time limits and alarm screenshot

Now, open any app and press the Home button three times (you will need to press it fairly quickly). You should see the Guided Access screen:

Start guided access screenshot

Tap “Options” on the bottom and set time limit:

Guided access time limit screenshot

Tap Done and then Start. Your iPhone is ready for your child.

Another great benefit of guided access is that your child is unable to switch to another app on your phone and mess with the settings, delete something important or access something inappropriate.

See also Use Guided Access with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch on Apple website.

Child watching TV

Why I built Safe Vision

Safe Vision is a mobile app that helps parents filter YouTube videos for their children.

When my daughter was 7, she was staying home alone from time to time (admittedly too early). One day she watched some scary videos on YouTube unsupervised. That was a traumatic experience for her: for a while, she was afraid of the dark, could not sleep alone, and would not stay alone in her room. Every little noise would scary her. She was telling us that things have moved on their own. It took her quite some time to recover.

Also, I noticed that my son watched a lot of gaming videos with strong language in them. That’s when I decided to do something about it.

Child watching TV

The trend is alarming: according to the study by NSPCC 40% of children seen violent material and nearly a third reported seeing self-harming or suicide content on YouTube.

Initially, I wanted the app to do all the filtering according to the child’s age. But I quickly discovered that parents have a wide range of opinions about what’s appropriate for their children. Today the main feature of the app is “unlocking” channels and videos in the parent mode.

I strongly believe that we as parents are responsible for what goes into the minds of our children. It’s like food: left to their own devices, children would eat a lot of junk food and candy. However, we as the parents are responsible for providing healthy choices.

This is true when the children are very young and lack a moral compass to tell them what’s good and what’s not.

I think James Bridle gave the best advice for parents about YouTube:

If you have small children, keep them the hell away from YouTube.

However, if you still want to let your child watch YouTube, please use some kind of parental control tool.