YouTube for kids safety can be hazardous, few will argue that. Video searching can be a dangerous expedition under the watchful eyes of your child if you don’t have proper safeguards in place on YouTube. If you are using the YouTube App or accessing it from a browser on your home computer you know exactly what I’m talking about.
And since the death of free user based online aggregating with TOTLOL in 2009, there is little option for parents seeking their kids’ safety except a paid service or app. I once searched a topic as innocent as “Piano Songs” and stumbled upon a disturbing video image of a crying child holding a gun to his head. It appeared conspicuously along the YouTube gallery side bar and was packaged within an innocent 7 minute long video that played classical music. Nice.
A child with a gun to his head is not an easy thing to explain to your five year old taking formal piano lessons. Desperately wanting to avoid future encounters with disturbing violent images, I decided to do a little research on available apps that make YouTube for kids a fun and safe experience.
1st of all, YouTube does have a Safety Mode for Parental Controls
YouTube’s internet interface has really begun to make the native iPhone app for YouTube obsolete. If you want to use Safari to access YouTube’s website from your iPhone or iPad, there is a simple setting you can set up to access a filtered version of YouTube. Turning it on is simple. Just go to YouTube’s home page and follow the directions below:
But There are Problems with YouTube’s Safety Mode
The YouTube Kids Safety Mode is not foolproof, as Amit Agarwal of Digital Inspiration explains to readers:
“The Safety Mode in YouTube is a great option but don’t be too excited as it isn’t fool proof yet. This is because YouTube relies on the “crowd sourcing” model to determine age-restricted content – if the community doesn’t flag a video, the clip will bypass the Safety mode filter as well. In my limited testing, YouTube did block videos for terms like “naked” and “sex” but the filtering simply failed in quite a few cases.”
Agarwal suggests parents create a playlist and embed it onto another site as a workaround to this YouTube for kids safety issue. A better, more convenient option for parents is to install an iPad, iPhone, or Android App that keep them from having to do all that extra work.
So if you have little kids and want more than a workaround that keeps you from stumbling on violent or pornographic videos by accident in the ‘related videos’ carousel, then what you really need is an app for that.
We Found 2 Apps that make YouTube for Kids both Safe and Fun:
GUBE by Shacked Apps
The company released this brand spanking new app just a few short months ago. It rivals it’s competitors with some of its unique features. The most notable is ease of use by toddlers and kids.
More on that in a minute….
This is Net Junky’s first app, and it has been on the market a couple of years, earning it praise and awards from various websites as a trend setter. But Weet Woo has got some competition, finally.
More on that in a minute….
GUBE is the Best Choice for the Toddlers; Here’s Why:
Gube has unique features:
- Bookmarked Favorites
- Continuous Play Mode
- Random Play Mode
Inspired by the developer’s son Gavin, This stand alone app filters YouTube videos for kids safety in a very simple way. Gube offers a streamlined interface that toddlers and preschoolers can operate without any parent assistance at all. I handed this over to my 5 year old and he was able to navigate the app without any assistance. My son was even able to mark some videos as favorites without any help from me. This gives Gube a slight advantage over Weet Woo!, another app designed to filter YouTube videos for kids but using an interface that requires a little reading.
Emily Shaw is the media spokesperson for Shacked Apps and she contacted Healthy-Family.org for a review of their app.
Shaw says: “As parents, we all know how much our children enjoy watching videos, and how a quick diversion can help turn a meltdown into a moment of quiet. When used appropriately and sparingly, Gube offers you a chance at avoiding a toddler’s scene. In just a few discrete taps, you can turn what would have been a rushed, stressful dinner into an enjoyable and fun outing.”
Gube’s thousands of videos are categorized by age group, and are completely searchable. The app has simple navigation features as opposed to the YouTube interface. If you are looking for an app that your kids will be able to use independently, then I think Gube is well worth the few dollars it costs to purchase. Shaw confirmed that unlike Youtube’s Safety Mode, Gube’s filters are done by parents who manually categorize each one by age ranges:
- Grade School
Shaw says Gube developers add requested videos regularly. Because it is a small start up app company, customer service is a priority at Shacked Apps. So if you are disappointed with the selection, or want a favorite video added, just contact the company directly with your request. Resolution was excellent on both the iPhone and the iPad.
We Like Weet Woo! for Older Kids; Here’s Why:
Weet Woo! has unique features:
- Categorizes by subject: Animals, Fun Shows, Learn, Music, People, Places
- Allows search by subject
- Includes many “Me TV” type shows not found in Gube: Electric Company, Classic Smurfs, and Pink Panther
Weet Woo! has had a corner on the market for a couple of years now. They aggregate YouTube videos by subjects and can be navigated fairly easily by older kids. I noticed that the iPhone’s resolution on this app is slightly better than the iPad resolution. A work around for iPad users is to select the smaller Weet Woo! interface on the iPad. The actual YouTube video resolution is equal to what you’d find on YouTube.
There are Additional Below Par Apps Advertising a Safe Youtube for Kids
tinyTube is an iTunes store iPhone and iPad Youtube for kids app that prevents related videos from appearing. Costing less than its competitors, this app also offers less features. The app comes from Tiny Techies. Unlike Gube and Weet Woo! this app does not aggregate videos automatically. This little app will only display videos pre-approved and marked as a favorite by you. This app will however, remove all information and links associated with the videos, a must for kids safety. tinyTube is suitable for parents who have time to screen videos and want complete control over video offerings for their child. But most Healthy-Family readers looking for convenience and functionality may be disappointed with this one.
Apple customers that shop the iTunes store will also have options to download free apps that offer YouTube video surfing for kids. The didoTV app by Guodong Yang is made for both the iPhone and iPad. Once a paid app, it is now completely free to download. Customer complaints about didoTV range from issues with didoTV’s screening process (contained videos that should have been omitted), lack of ability to view more than 3 videos a day, and a large pool of included videos in foreign languages. Not a top pick for Healthy-Family readers, so if kids safety is your priority, this is not the app for you.
If you like this article about using YouTube for kids safely, check out: Kids Books on YouTube: They are a Free Alternative to eBooks. You’ll get access to 10 popular children’s books, some are read aloud by the author. Your kids might really like these classic stories. Healthy Family has also recently reviewed an iPad app service by Farfaria that offers a library of over 300 read aloud stories for kids. Their books run the gamut from preschool through 3rd or 4th grade.