Article: YouTube how do you use it with your kids?


Smosh, Good Mythical Morning, PewDiePie — the names may not mean much to you, but chances are your kids are on a first-name basis. Their funny hosts, off-the-cuff commentary, silly antics, and bewildering (to adults) subject matter put them among the most popular YouTube channels for young teens, garnering millions (and, in the case of game commentary PewDiePiebillions) of views. In fact, according to a recent survey of U.S. teens by Variety, the top five most influential celebrities are YouTube stars. But information about these personalities’ shows — the content, quality, and age-appropriateness, for example — isn’t easy for parents to find.

Until YouTube’s app for kids really catches on with fans, the original YouTube poses a challenge for parents.  Anyone can create YouTube channels, they crop up seemingly out of nowhere, they don’t follow program schedules, and they’re cast out among thousands of other videos. Still, there are clues to figuring out which channels and creators are OK for your kids. YouTube clearly has a huge impact, and you’ll learn a lot about your kids when you really dig into what they’re tuning into. (Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular YouTube stars.)

And it’s worth doing. Kids love discovering new videos on YouTube, and that often means exposure to iffy stuff — even when they’re not seeking it out. With some simple tools, you can help your kids regulate their habits and increase the chances that their experience will be positive. Also, read our detailed review of YouTube.

The Basics

Watch with your kid. Simply ask your kids what they’re watching and join them. In general, kids are tuning into certain channels or following specific YouTube personalities because they’re entertained by them. Many kids naturally want to share the videos they like.

Watch by yourself. If kids don’t want to share, get the name of the channel they’re watching and watch it later. Watch a few videos by the same creator to get a feel for the content.

Be sleuthy. If you’re concerned about the content your kid is watching on YouTube — and you’ve tried talking to her — there are ways of tracking her viewing habits. If she has a YouTube account (which only requires a Gmail address), her YouTube page will display her recently watched videos, recommended videos based on her watch history, and suggestions for channels similar to the ones she’s watched. Even if your kid deletes her “watch history,” the recommendations all will be related to stuff she’s watched.

Subscribe. Encourage your kids to subscribe to their favorite channels rather than hunting around on YouTube for the latest ones from a specific creator. Subscribers are notified when a new video is uploaded, plus all their channels are displayed in My Subscriptions, making it easier, and faster, to go directly to the stuff they like. Consider choosing subscriptions together, and make an event out of watching the newest uploads with your kids.

The Nitty-Gritty

Investigate the creator. The name of each video’s creator appears beneath the video window and usually has a bit of information about the person behind the video and/or the channel itself. Google the creator’s name to find out whether he or she has a Wikipedia page or another Web presence. You might find out that your kid’s favorite YouTube personality has an impressive reach. LGBTQ advocate Tyler Oakley, for example, has a huge fan base that crosses demographics, making him a positive role model for all kinds of kids.

Look at the suggestions. The suggested videos listed on the right-hand side of the page are related in some way to the main video. Evaluate them to see if they seem age-appropriate, and that will provide an indication of the appropriateness of the main video.

Consider the ads. If an ad plays before the video, that’s actually a good sign. To qualify for advertising and earn money (the goal of most YouTube channels), a creator must apply to be a YouTube partner by sending in some sample videos. YouTube rejects videos that don’t meet their terms of service and community guidelines — vulgar or stolen content, in other words. Yes, that means your kid sees more ads, but the trade-off seems worth it (and you can always mute the commercials).

Read the comments. YouTube comments are notorious for being negative, but it’s worth reading them to get a sense of the channels’ demographic and the tone of the discussion. Channel creators can moderate their comments to reduce the amount of negativity. Well-groomed comments are a good sign.

Watch the trailer. Many creators make highlight reels and trailers — basically video ads for the channels themselves (which usually appear first on the channel page). Definitely watch them if they’re available to get an overview of the host and the content.

Finding Good Stuff

Turn on safety mode. Be aware that YouTube is technically only for teens 13 and up, and what the site considers age-appropriate may not match your values. But YouTube offers a filter called Safety Mode that limits the iffy stuff. Simply scroll down to the bottom of any YouTube page. See where it says “Safety”? Click it on. (It will remain on for logged-in users on the same browser.)

Take YouTube’s advice. Most kids find out about new videos either from their friends or by clicking on the related videos (which may or may not be appropriate). But YouTube itself offers several ways to home in on quality content. Visit YouTube Nation for curated content in a variety of categories. Read about YouTube news on the company blog, and find out what’s trending all over the country on the Map and the Dashboard.

Watch later. YouTube gives you the ability to save videos to watch at a later time, which improves the odds that your kids will be exposed to stuff you’ve preapproved. You can create playlists, too, virtually designing a customized programming schedule of content for each of your kids or for different subjects they’re interested in.

About the Author: Caroline Knorr

As Common Sense Media’s parenting editor, Caroline helps parents make sense of what’s going on in their kids’ media lives. From games to cell phones to movies and more, if you’re wondering “what’s the right age for…?” Caroline can help you make the decision that works best for your family. She has more than 20 years of editorial and creative marketing writing experience and has held senior-level positions at, Walmart stores, Cnet, and Bay Area Parent magazine. She specializes in translating complex information into bite-sized chunks to help families make informed choices about what their kids watch, play, read, and do. And she’s the proud mom of a teenage son whose media passions include Star Wars, StarCraft,graphic novels, and the radio program This American Life.



Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at


Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her two sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.

YouTube Kids by Google – a Must Have Free App for Families

iPhone Screenshot 1

What we love…

Timer feature, how easy it is for kids to use, filled with child safe videos, gives children new ideas on creative and educational videos to watch

What we’d love to see…

Stronger parental gate, ability to add your own favorites, saved searches, offline viewing, ability to create your own playlists


I think this app is a must have for any family that lets children watch videos on an iPad or iPhone. The app isn’t perfect but it is a huge improvement on using the native YouTube app for kids. Download this free app today!

Our Rating


YouTube KidsMany kids love watching videos on YouTube but for parents it can be a scary place, as there are many videos you would not want your child watching. Even ones that have their favorite subjects matter such as Minecraft can surprise you by including swearing and inappropriate content. The new YouTube Kids app from Google is an attempt to provide a safer more child-friendly environment for kids to watch YouTube videos.

I introduced my 7 year-old son to the app when it first came out and he loves it. It is very easy for a child to navigate and includes features that parents will appreciate. The videos within the app are screened to be child friendly, and if you find any that are not you can report them directly from the app. There are still adverts, but at least they are for child-friendly products such as kids TV shows.

One feature I love (and my son hates!) is that there is a built-in timer feature so the parent can set how long the child is allowed to watch for. If you combine this with guided access then the iPad is effectively disabled at the end of the timed period. The one fault with this is the parental gate that lets you access the timer is too easy. The app says e.g. four, seven, six, three and you have to enter 4763, I would like to see this replaced with a password or passcode that the parent sets.

iPhone Screenshot 5

The app has 6 sections: recommended (based on your previous watching history), shows, music, learning, explore and search.


The shows sections displays popular kids channels such as Thomas & Friends,  Sesame Street, Peppa Pig, Babar, Reading Rainbow and Disney Shorts. Tapping on any of these channels allows you to browse and select videos from them.

iPhone Screenshot 3


Here kids can explore channels specializing in kid-friendly music videos.


This is a really cool section that introduces child-friendly educational channels such as PBS KIDS, Incredible Science, the Khan Academy, It’s Okay to be Smart and TedEd. I love this section as it makes it easy for my kids to find videos they enjoy but they are also learning at the same time.

iPhone Screenshot 4


This includes channels on subjects such as arts, crafts, Lego, kids yoga and cooking, as well as topical news and fun stuff such as cat and puppy videos.


Parents can switch off search in the settings but when it is enabled the child can search for child friendly videos by typing the subject they are looking for or by saying it. My son loves to be able to search for his favorite characters just by saying their name. I’m also having fun with this section finding all the old videos I used to watch as a kid, even though I grew up on an entirely different continent I can easily my old favorites such as Roobarb and Custard, Noah and Nelly, The Clangers and Ivor the Engine – a real trip down memory lane!

I think this app is a must have for any family that lets children watch videos on an iPad or iPhone. The app isn’t perfect, there are some features I would love to see added in future updates- the ability to add your own favorites list of videos and channels, saved searches, a stronger parental gate, ability to download favorites for offline viewing and the ability to create playlists for your children, but that said it is a huge improvement on using the native YouTube app for kids. I love how easy it is for kids to use, the fact that it is filled with child safe videos, it gives children new ideas on creative and educational videos to watch, the timer feature and how easy the search option is to use.

YouTube Kids – Google, Inc.

YouTube Kids YouTube Kids by Google, Inc.

Price: $FREE

A world of learning and fun, made just for kids

We created YouTube Kids to make it safer and simpler for kids to explore the world through online video – from their favorite shows and music to.

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).

Kids? Panic! by DM Media Pty Ltd – Review

iPad Screenshot 5

What we love…

child friendly app that provides access to video’s that are appropriate for children with instant loading of the next video which makes it perfect for those moments when you need five minutes to yourself

What we’d love to see…

stronger parental gate, ability to choose your own video’s based on the pre-selected ones available within the app.  Also would like to see the ability to turn off access to the video’s unless on a wi-fi network since data charges could accrue quickly


Easy to use, child friendly although you do need to be aware of data charges if using a 3G network

Our Rating

Kids? Panic by DM Media Party Ltd is a universal app for iOS which links to child-appropriate YouTube video’s such as television shows, songs, nursery rhymes and more with each video being five minutes or less.  The app is simple to operate with a “panic” button on the main screen which when touched launches the video via YouTube.  Parents should be aware that the app does use data so if they do not want to use it with their data plans they will need to ensure that children do not have access to the app.

I liked that all of the video’s selected within the app were child friendly, although when I attempted to watch them to ensure they were appropriate it took quite a long time to make my way through all of them.    Once the video finishes, the next one begins immediately (although I would like to see a 30 gap to ensure that you can have a break in between) to ensure that your child continues to have access to the video’s.  This app was very helpful recently when I was on a quick but important telephone conversation and I was able to just hand the phone to my son to ensure that I had a few moments of peace.  Of note, parents can enable guided access on their device to ensure that children stay within the app which is helpful especially for younger children.

In terms of enhancements, I would like to see an option where parents can choose if they want to run the video’s via a 3G network or only via wifi.  If children got access to this app, data charges could add up very quickly since it uses YouTube video’s for the app.  I’d also like to see a more difficult parental lock as the 1-2-3-4 combination is fairly easy for older preschoolers and children to figure out especially if they see their parents do it.  Perhaps randomizing it to a random pattern of numbers (what is 1+3) help to ensure children did not accidentally gain access.  In addition, it would be helpful if the user could select the video’s they wished for their child to see.  Currently you can see a selection of which video’s are available, however, there is no way to create a “playlist” of favorites from the chosen video’s.  There were some video’s which I wished I could have excluded, but currently there is no way to do this.  I also think the title of the app is a bit misleading and may make it difficult for parents to find in the app store.

Overall, the app provides access to child friendly video’s in an easy to use interface.  I do recommend that a parental gate be installed to allow parents to create a playlist of video’s which they deem appropriate from the ones available within the app which would eliminate the need for the current 1-2-3-4 parental lock which children have been able to figure out after seeing their parents use it.  I also feel that there should be a setting which will not allow video’s to play over 3G unless the parent has specifically given permission for them to do so from within a parent protected area.


Requirements: Compatible with
Size: 0 MB


NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.

Super Dad-iBook by Shoo Rayner – Giveaway



If you are looking for a cute iBook for your kids to share with their Dad this Father’s Day then Shoo Rayner’s Super Dad may be what you are looking for. Shoo Rayner is a talented artist who has a series of how to draw videos on you tube – can can check them out at his website Super dad is the story of a little boy who adores his dad. Dad works hard and is very busy so he doesn’t always have time to play with his son, and often says “sorry son, I’m very busy” . The boy tries to get dad to help him build his new Super Hero Toy but dad is too busy watching TV (even when the adverts are on), the boy gets mad at his dad and doesn’t want to speak to him. Dad goes off to work and a very special visitor comes to play …..Super Dad. The story has very cute illustrations and an important message about making time to play with your kids. As this is an iBook and not an app it does not include narration or interactive elements and you need to download the free iBooks app to read it. The iBook also contains a video demonstration of how to draw Super Dad and a link to the video of the author reading the book (need an internet connection to view the video).

You can watch a video of the author reading the book here

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Category: Books
Requirements:This book can only be viewed using iBooks 2 on an iPad. iOS 5 is required.
Cost: $0.99 Super Dad - Shoo Rayner
Please use our App Store button above if you decide to buy this app. It doesn’t cost any extra and a small portion of the cost goes to support the work we do here at The iMums!

Already use this app? Rate it here![ratings]
If you would like to win a promo code for this ibook we have 2 to giveaway.

To enter 1) share this post via social media

2) leave a blog post comment saying how you shared

3)For an extra entry comment on which is your favorite image in the book (see the video)

Winners picked at random Sat June 16th.

Winners must contact The iMums within 48hrs of the winners being announced to claim their prize. This giveaway is open to everyone, worldwide, and an iTunes account is required to claim the prize. Good luck!




Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).

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