YouTube Restricted Mode and 4 more ways to protect your kids online

Ray Fernandez

Sep 22, 20238 min read

YouTube Restricted Mode and 4 more ways to protect your kids online: Header image

Every parent knows that kids love watching videos online. And while younger generations can benefit from having access to the digital world, many mothers and fathers are understandably concerned about the types of content their children have access to. The last thing you want as a parent is for your child to stumble upon harmful or dangerous videos. Fortunately, YouTube Restricted Mode offers parental controls that can help you make your kids’ digital experience safer.

How YouTube Restricted Mode works

If your children are under 13, you may want to activate YouTube’s Restricted Mode on one or all of the devices they use. Restricted Mode is an easy-to-activate feature that helps parents screen out potentially mature content, violent videos, and videos or music that contain vulgar language or are age-restricted.

Using data like video titles, descriptions, Community Guidelines, reviews, and age restrictions set by creators, YouTube limits the viewer’s experience by filtering out certain types of content when Restricted Mode is turned on. The feature will also turn off the ability to view comments on all videos.

While YouTube recognizes that these filters are not 100 percent effective, there are several reasons why you should consider enabling this setting if your kids use YouTube. 

Restricted Mode will not stream videos that:

  • Are flagged as inappropriate by the YouTube community
  • Have been marked “for mature audiences only” by the content’s creator
  • Talk about drug use, drug abuse, or alcohol consumption
  • Overlay detailed conversations or depictions of sex or sexual activity
  • Depict graphic violence, violent acts, natural disasters, tragedies, or violent news
  • Are related to terrorism, wars, crimes, or sensitive political subjects
  • Contain vulgar language and profanity
  • Are incendiary, discriminatory, or demeaning

How to enable Restricted Mode on YouTube

Activating Restricted Mode is straightforward and can be done in a few simple steps. To activate Restricted Mode on the YouTube app on your iPhone or iPad:

  1. Open the YouTube app and sign in. 
  2. Tap on your profile photo in the top-right corner.
  3. Select Settings and then General.
  4. Turn Restricted Mode on. 

How to turn on Restricted Mode on your Mac: 

  1. Open YouTube on your Mac and sign in to your account. 
  2. At the top right, click on your profile photo. 
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the drop-down menu and click Restricted Mode. 
  4. In the new window, switch Activate Restricted Mode to On.

How to turn off Restricted Mode on YouTube

If you are wondering how to turn off Restricted Mode on YouTube, it’s just as easy as turning it on. 

To turn off Restricted Mode in the YouTube app on your iPhone or iPad:

  1. Open the YouTube app and sign in. 
  2. Tap on your profile photo in the top right corner.
  3. Select Settings and then General.
  4. Turn Restricted Mode off. 

How to turn off Restricted Mode on your Mac: 

  1. Open YouTube on your Mac and sign in to your account. 
  2. At the top right, click on your profile photo. 
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the drop-down menu and click on Restricted Mode. 
  4. In the new window, switch Activate Restricted Mode to Off.

Can kids turn off Restricted Mode?

As mentioned above, turning Restricted Mode on and off is very simple, which can be a problem. Any child who is knowledgeable enough to search Google for the instructions can learn how to turn the feature off. 

Additionally, toddlers love to press, tap, and click on anything and everything on the screen. Parents know how easily their configurations can be messed up as a result. Fortunately, there are ways to work around these problems. 

Other ways to age-restrict YouTube

If you’re concerned about your children turning off Restricted Mode, there are other ways to set up filters and age-restriction protections. Let’s look into how to set up parental controls on YouTube.

1. Use parental controls in the YouTube Kids app

YouTube Kids is one of the most popular options among parents. This app is a child-friendly version of YouTube, and its videos are specifically for kids from preschool to age 12. Like any app, it isn’t 100% safe, but parents can use parental control settings to customize YouTube Kids more effectively. 

You can create a YouTube Kids profile using your own Google account or by creating a Supervised Google Account (more on this in the next section). YouTube Kids lets signed-in parents create a profile for their child to use YouTube Kids on their own devices. 

To set up parental controls in YouTube Kids when using the app for the first time: 

  1. Download and run the app. 
  2. Tap I’m a Parent. 
  3. Enter your birth year and tap Confirm.
  4. Sign in with your Google account and start creating a profile for your child. 
  5. Enter your child’s first name, age, and birth month. 
  6. Select one of the recommended content settings, which include: Approve content yourself, Preschool (for ages 4 and under), Younger (for ages 5 to 8), and Older (for ages 9 to 10).
  7. Create one or more profiles for each of your kids. 
  8. Once profiles are created, you can click on the Lock icon in the bottom right to set screen times or go to Settings for more options. 

2. Set up a supervised Google account for your child

While YouTube Kids is very popular, kids rapidly grow out of the app and will likely start asking for regular YouTube access. Luckily, parents can create supervised YouTube accounts for their kids, allowing them to not only filter content but keep a close eye on their kids’ YouTube activity. A supervised account will give you parental control over the YouTube app, which may be the step up you need from YouTube Kids.

To create a supervised YouTube account, you will first need to create a Google account for your child and link it to your own.

To create your child’s Google account:

  1. Go to your Google Account, click on your profile picture, then select Add another account.
  2. Select Create account, and when prompted, choose For my child.
  3. Create your child’s account by entering their name, the email address you want, their birthday, and a password.
  4. Google will detect if the account belongs to someone under 13 and automatically ask you to enter the email of the parent who will manage the account.
  5. Enter your email account and click Next.
  6. Read the terms and agree to continue.
  7. You will now be prompted to sign in to your own account. Simply enter your password and click next.
  8. You can invite a second adult to help manage the account in this step. If you opt to do so, add the email. If not, tap Skip.
  9. You will see a confirmation message informing you that your child’s account has been created.

Now that you have created your child’s account and linked it to yours, you can set up your preferred YouTube parental controls.

To set up parental controls on a Supervised Account for your child:

  1. Sign in to your Google Account and go to the YouTube app or YouTube website on your Mac, iPhone, iPad, or Smart TV. 
  2. Go to Settings and navigate to Parent Settings on your iPhone or iPad. (If you are on your Mac, scroll down to find Parental Settings in the center of the screen, then click on Manage settings for your kids.) 
  3. A new window will open. Select your child’s account from the list.
  4. Under Choose an experience for your kid, select YouTube and YouTube Music (parent supervised).
  5. Now choose a content setting for your kid from Explore (for viewers 9+), Explore More (13+), or Most of YouTube.
  6. Follow the onscreen instructions to reach the Parent Settings menu, where you can customize and review your kid’s account settings.

With a supervised Google account, you can: 

  • Review your kids’ YouTube history. 
  • View your child’s location (if he or she is using an Andriod phone). 
  • Change account settings and controls, such as app activity and how Google collects your child’s data. 
  • Control your child’s interaction with third-party apps.
  • Control screen time.
  • See which apps your child uses and for how long.
  • Remotely lock devices. 
  • Block content, sites, purchases, and apps. 
  • Turn SafeSearch on or off.

3. Enable Safe Search for Google and YouTube

Safe Search is an excellent feature to help you filter the results that appear when your child searches the web via Google or YouTube. Again, while this filter is not 100% secure, it does reduce the chance of your child being exposed to explicit content like pornography, violence, and more.

To enable or disable Safe Search for Google on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac:

  1. Go to SafeSearch settings.
  2. Turn SafeSearch on or off.
  3. Click the back arrow to return to the main Google search page. 

To turn on Safe Search on YouTube using the Google Family Link app: 

  1. Download, run, and sign in to the Google Family Link app
  2. Select your child.
  3. Tap Controls, then Content restrictions, and finally, Google Search.
  4. Turn SafeSearch on or off.

4. Set Restrictions on your child’s iPhone or iPad

Apple offers parental controls for your child’s iPhone or iPad that add additional protection beyond YouTube restrictions. Apple offers a wide range of features for you to customize your kids’ devices. 

You can set and limit screen time, block apps and purchases, filter content and downloads, and more. You can also prevent explicit videos and music based on ratings. 

To restrict explicit content and content ratings on your kids’ iPhones or iPads:

  1. Go to Settings and tap Screen Time.
  2. Tap Turn on Screen Time, then tap it again.
  3. Choose This is My [Device] or This is My Child’s [Device].
  4. Tap Use Screen Time Passcode to create a passcode, then re-enter the passcode to confirm. You will be asked to enter your Apple ID and password. (If you’re setting up Screen Time on your child’s device, follow the onscreen instruction prompts until you get to Screen Time Passcode and enter a passcode.) 
  5. Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions. If asked, enter your passcode. 
  6. Turn on Content & Privacy Restrictions.
  7. Select your desired settings for each feature under Allowed Store Content.

Using this feature, you can restrict the following: 

  • Music, podcasts, news, and other content that contains explicit content
  • Movies, TV shows, books, apps, or movie clips with specific ratings

Navigating through parenthood can be as challenging as it is rewarding. Keeping your kids safe is always the number one priority. And as digital devices become more widespread among younger generations, it’s vital to safeguard your children. From setting screen time limits to monitoring and restricting the content your children view online, you can control their digital well-being by taking a few simple steps. 

Ray Fernandez Ray Fernandez
Ray has been covering tech and cybersecurity for over 15 years. His work has appeared on TechRepublic, VentureBeat, Forbes, Entrepreneur, and the Microsoft Blog, among others.