Circle utilizes YouTube’s Restricted Mode and Google’s SafeSearch to keep your kids safe from inappropriate video content.
It seems like every kid is on YouTube. They’re enamored by videos! From fart sounds to cute cats to dance videos and everything in between...they just can’t get enough. According to a 2019 report by Common Sense Media, YouTube is the most-used video platform by kids and tweens. The time kids spend watching videos continues to increase—since 2015 kids spent 50 percent more time watching them. It makes sense that parents need to set up content filtering to protect their kids from finding videos they shouldn’t be watching on YouTube.
With Circle, you can set up parental controls for YouTube across all connected devices through YouTube’s Restricted Mode and Google SafeSearch.
What Are YouTube Restricted Mode and Google SafeSearch?
When it comes to YouTube, they have their own content filtering system already in place. It’s called Restricted Mode, and when enabled, it’s designed to automatically restrict inappropriate content from showing up in searches through the YouTube platform, whether it’s being used in-app or on a web browser.
YouTube’s parent company, Google, also has an additional content filtering system called SafeSearch that filters out explicit content in the form of images, videos, and websites. Enabling both is a good starting point to keep your kids safe from stumbling onto videos you wouldn’t approve of across all their devices.
How YouTube’s Restricted Mode and Google’s SafeSearch Work
Restricted Mode is created and managed by YouTube, and it filters out content that is deemed inappropriate for kids under 18 years old. Publishers can flag their own content as “restricted” or set an age limit, and YouTube can flag the content based on metadata, the title, and language used in videos. Users can also report content that hasn’t been flagged but should be. YouTube typically flags any hint of profanity, violence, nudity, dangerous activities or other more mature content.
By enabling Restricted Mode and SafeSearch, your kids are far less likely to run across that kind of content in their searches. Of course, it’s possible some things will slip through the cracks, but most of what you want removed from their view will be unavailable. Circle cannot control when content does slip through, but reporting that content to YouTube or Google will help prevent it from happening in the future.
How to Set Parental Controls with YouTube's Restricted Mode and Circle
Using Circle to set up YouTube kids parental controls will save you loads of time. Each family members’ profile will simply need to have Restricted Mode and SafeSearch enabled in their profile’s Filter settings.
Start by selecting the profile of the family member for which you would like to enable SafeSearch. Then, tap Filter in their profile settings. Scroll to the bottom of the filter options to the Privacy & Safety category. Now, tap the button next to SafeSearch to turn it from Off to On. Press Save at the top right of the screen, and you’re done. Follow the exact same steps for setting up Restricted Mode.
A quick note for anyone who has Circle 1st generation. For your system, SafeSearch is enabled by default on Pre-K and the Kid filter levels. For all other levels you’ll need to enable SafeSearch or Restricted Mode during profile set up or from the profile's Filter settings.
If you are not using Circle to manage YouTube and Google, Restricted Mode and SafeSearch have to be set up for each computer, tablet, or mobile device that your kids use to watch YouTube. You’ll also have to set it up for every available browser on each device...kind of a pain. We’ll talk more about that further on.
What happens when Circle is enforcing Restricted Mode and SafeSearch?
Because Circle will simply be applying YouTube’s content filtering, we can’t determine what content appears when SafeSearch or Restricted Mode is enforced. If you run into issues, contact Google support to let them know.
Here are a few other things to know about the limitations while using Restricted Mode and SafeSearch:
- When YouTube's Restricted Mode is enforced by Circle on a device, you won’t be able to load live streams or comments on videos from YouTube. YouTube put this in place to ensure only kid-friendly material is served.
- Enabling SafeSearch disables access to Yahoo.com.
- SafeSearch and Restricted Mode are enforced at the network-level for all in-home devices managed by Circle or by using the “Set Up as Circle kid” option with VPN installed for mobile devices away from home once enabled.
How to make sure YouTube parental controls are working
Your kids are smart. They might try to find a way around limitations on YouTube or parental controls in general. If you're having issues setting YouTube to Not Allowed or if you think YouTube is being accessed when it shouldn't — like during a Bedtime, Focus Time, Pause, or when a Time Limit has been reached — there are a few troubleshooting ideas that could fix the problems. Consider these four options first:
1. Do you have the right device?
If you've assigned a device to a profile that has YouTube Not Allowed but it still loads you may need to make sure you’re looking at the correct device.
2. Check the profile's settings.
You can do that by tapping on the profile then the Filter level (Adult, Teen, Kid). In the list of Apps and Categories, setting the YouTube app to Not Allowed should always block it. Unmanaged will always allow it and it won't show up in your History, Usage, or apply to Time Limits you’ve set up for that profile.
An important note: Blocking just the Video category by setting it to Not Allowed won't block YouTube since apps take precedent over Circle's categories. Make sure to check your Off Times or Bedtimes are applying to the right days and times.
3. Give it a few minutes.
If you think YouTube is still allowed when you’ve just set it up to be “Now Allowed”, check it again in a few minutes. Circle manages outbound traffic to the Internet, but can't stop buffered content from loading still. Once the buffer runs out, YouTube should stop playing.
4. Try unmanaging network devices and check your connection.
If you've assigned any of your network devices to a managed profile (meaning not unmanaged or the "None" filter level), YouTube may still be accessible. Make sure any unknown or network devices are set to Unmanaged in your device list. You can also try connecting your Circle device over another internet connection. If you're using Ethernet, try unplugging to use Wi-Fi only or vice versa.
Allow YouTube during only certain days or times
The beauty of managing YouTube through Circle’s parental controls is that you can adjust it’s availability whenever you want in just a few taps of your phone.
Has one of your kids been killing it at school? Maybe they deserve to be able to watch a few extra videos before bedtime arrives as a reward. You can do that! Just tap their profile, and select the reward by extending the time limit of the YouTube app and browser link.
Or, if your kids need YouTube to be accessible in order to get their school work done from home, you can Unmanage the YouTube app to make it always available, even during Off Times or Pauses. Then, remove any temptation to roam away from school work by setting other Categories or Apps—like social media—to Not Allowed You can also create a new profile that has YouTube Allowed and assign devices to that during special times of the day. Simply go to the Menu, then tap Add a Profile.
Without Circle, how do you set up Restricted Mode and SafeSearch?
It’s going to be more time consuming without Circle. First, you’ll need to log in to your kid’s YouTube account. To turn on the Restricted Mode on a computer, click on their profile icon in the upper right-hand corner. Scroll down to the bottom of the menu to turn on the Restricted Mode, then close out. But remember, just because it’s set up within their YouTube account doesn’t mean YouTube videos won’t come up in a typical Google, Bing, or Yahoo search. You’ll need to set enable those same filters on all the available browsers as well.
On a mobile device the process is similar, but you’ll have to tap Settings first to turn on the Restricted Mode. You’ll need to repeat the process for each device and web browser your kids use to watch YouTube. So you can imagine that's a lot of YouTube parental controls on iPads, iPhones, Android devices to be setting.
Make filtering YouTube content simple with Circle
Parenting is hard enough. Managing YouTube content through Circle makes things easy. Circle Home Plus puts all the tools you need to keep your kids safe online in one box. Try it out for yourself.