Pre-teens and teenagers have been in a strange YouTube void as parents tried to navigate how their kids might safely but realistically use the site. The options, up until now, have essentially been to keep them locked down on the YouTube Kids app, which is (rightfully so) rather restrictive — or set them loose in the scary world of a fully open YouTube. Particularly for tweens and young teens, though, YouTube Kids is too childish, while full-on YouTube is probably not a place you want them to hang out. But now, there’s a middle-of-the-road option.
YouTube recently launched a new option specifically geared toward tweens, teens, and their parents with a supervised experience. Parents can allow their children access to regular YouTube (not YouTube Kids) via a supervised Google account. Through that account, parents can set content settings based on their child’s age or developmental stage. There are three settings to choose from, as YouTube describes:
- Explore: For children ready to move on from YouTube Kids and explore content on YouTube, this setting will feature a broad range of videos generally suitable for viewers ages 9+, including vlogs, tutorials, gaming videos, music clips, news, educational content and more.
- Explore More: With content generally suitable for viewers ages 13+, this setting will include an even larger set of videos, and also live streams in the same categories as “Explore.”
- Most of YouTube: This setting will contain almost all videos on YouTube, except for age-restricted content, and it includes sensitive topics that may only be appropriate for older teens.
To set up the supervised experience, YouTube offers a video tutorial on, naturally, YouTube:
To get started, you’ll first need to create a supervised Google account for your child with Family Link — those instructions are here. If they already have an account you manage through Family Link, you can set up your child’s YouTube access by following these directions:
- From the YouTube app on your device
- Online at families.youtube.com
- From the Family Link app
- From the YouTube app on your child’s device
To change their “content setting,” sign in to YouTube, go to your profile picture and then Settings > Parent Settings / Manage settings for your kids. From there, select the child’s name and under YouTube Settings, and click the Edit button next to Content Settings. That’s where you’ll choose from the “Explore,” “Explore More,” or “Most of YouTube” settings detailed above.
In the child’s settings, you can also choose to stop allowing videos to be recommended to them based on new video views or new search terms used.
The experience is still in its “beta” phase, which means YouTube will be testing it, collecting feedback, and making adjustments as needed, but it’s available for use in dozens of countries and regions.