How best to manage YouTube on an iPad for a child?
June 26, 2016 7:11 AM   Subscribe

My four-year-old loves our iPad, but I don't want him to use it for nothing but YouTube videos. I'm also unhappy with some of the videos that Google considers to be OK for children. How can I manage his viewing, in terms of both time and content?

Ideally, I'd like to be able to set a schedule when he can use YouTube (say, a certain number of minutes per day; with more on the weekends), and either block particularly obnoxious channels, or allow only a whitelist of channels or playlists that I've seen and approved.

Google's YouTube Kids app helps a bit, but I'm not happy with a lot of the content that it considers appropriate, and it doesn't seem to have any more fine-grained controls. Is there anything better out there?
posted by Zonker to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
If you want to control what he does, allow your child to use the iPad only when you're actively using it with him. There's no secret solution.

I suspect that like TV, the educational value of iPad time only kicks in when you are engaged with your child at the same time.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 7:35 AM on June 26, 2016 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the response. I don't mean to threadsit, but I probably should mention that I have my reasons for wanting him to have some relatively unstructured time when he can choose his activity without having his parents supervising too obviously. I can see where my question was a bit vague on that; I'm looking for an app or web service with the features I mentioned. Thanks.
posted by Zonker at 8:52 AM on June 26, 2016

Previously. We have resorted to hiding the iPads.
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:19 AM on June 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

There are various filtering apps for ios, which you can find if you google. I haven't had much luck for the same problem with my 2.5 year old and our android "tabby," as she calls it. Even uninstalling youtube doesn't work; the app just reappears the next time you boot it up. I go through my youtube playlist periodically to remove anything funky from the history and check what she's been watching, which helps with the recommended videos. I also just talk to her a lot about how grown-ups put things on there for kids that aren't good for them that LOOK good (daddy finger, peppa pig poop, kinder egg unboxing) and make a lot of better apps available.

For time limits, I just set a kitchen timer and tell her that's how much tabby time she gets.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:31 AM on June 26, 2016

Best answer: If it's helpful, here's a similar question I put to another forum. Apparently there's an apple app called cakey that might be what you need:
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:46 AM on June 26, 2016

Ugh. My 7 year old was sneaking video time and used up most of this month's data allotment.

There doesn't appear to be a good technological solution. There are some third party apps you can install, but they all seemed to want a hefty subscription, and things like the YouTube Kids timer are (1) annoying and (2) ineffective, since they can be disabled by quitting out of the app!

What we really need is something like apple's OSX parental controls. It's like none of Apple's iOS engineers/programmers have little kids. Argh! (I emailed Tim Cook about this---really!---but I didn't get any response. Maybe you all should should too!)
posted by leahwrenn at 9:52 AM on June 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Kindle Fire for kids has time restriction options if you don't mind getting another tablet (they're cheap and pretty sturdy)
posted by KateViolet at 10:14 AM on June 26, 2016

Guided access in the iPad settings can set a timer after which the app stops
posted by meijusa at 11:00 AM on June 26, 2016

Use the YouTube kids app. It's like regular YouTube but filtered and safe.
Then turn on guided access. Go to settings - general - accessibility - guided access. Once it is set up you can then triple click to lock the iPad in an app and disable certain features & buttons.
Avoiding screen time seems ideal until you have a toddler and you need to get stuff done or keep them still while waiting for something.
posted by photoexplorer at 11:00 AM on June 26, 2016

Oh sorry I re-read your comment and realized you are already using the kids app. Sorry I don't have any solutions for this, I didn't know that was an issue. Right now my kid only wants to watch Elmo so I load it for him then lock the screen.
You can also set time limits from guided access.
posted by photoexplorer at 11:03 AM on June 26, 2016

came in here to see if there is some solution, as we definitely would like one too! But can only confirm that so far I / we found none.
We actually now agreed (all three: child, and dad which was quite a feat) to no longer let him watch youtube without an adult to help weed out the unsuitable stuff. And my son was honestly not upset - he said: mom you are right, the videos are gross (this was about minecraft videos mostly, he is 7 1/2) and he also said you know one wrong klick I make and only gross stuff follows in the recommendations and am fed up with that. And cleaning up history or any of those age group filters etc was no help, as literally one click brings back the nasty stuff.

Anyway, as we still also want him to have time by himself on the iPad without us watching over his shoulder we now resort to websites that offer videos, clips, games etc made for his age group.
I wont link because this stuff is all in German but I am sure it also exists in English - we found that literally all his favourite TV shows but also some of his favourite book series have websites with videos to watch (but not downloadable) and those children's sites do not automatically redirect to you tube to watch them. So he can safely click around all on his own. I set him us his favourites and he is happy with that.
posted by 15L06 at 11:07 AM on June 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

The YouTube Kids app does have some minimally useful settings. If you go to the settings in the app as mentioned above there is an option you can set for "preschooler" so that it will only suggest videos that are supposedly appropriate for a preschooler. I just found this setting this week and tried turning it on, it has taken out a bunch of the stuff that did not seem appropriate, but not all of it (i.e. the first video when my daughter booted it up was something called "Lego Friends Dolphin Cruise Contest" which appeared to target maybe 8-12 year olds - I let her watch it but it was irritatingly full of middle school girl cliches. I wish I could set preferred channels only).
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:45 AM on June 26, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks, PhoBWanKenobi, Cakey looks like just what the doctor ordered. (And created by the guy behind "Hot or Not" -- how strangely lives evolve!)
posted by Zonker at 11:53 AM on June 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

This doesn't directly answer your question, but in case you're not aware of it, PBS has a kids app. My 4yo is NOT ALLOWED to use YouTube, but is allowed unfettered access to PBS kids. It's a solution we're both happy with.
posted by cestmoi15 at 6:22 PM on June 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, cestmoi15, I'll look into that one, too.
posted by Zonker at 4:50 PM on June 27, 2016

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