How to block YouTube on the iPad

My 3-year-old son loves trains, Thomas especially. He will watch other kids’ Thomas videos on YouTube and then run to his  Thomas trains to set up his own storyline and crashes using ideas he learned from YouTube. The iPad has made his YouTube Thomas fix very convenient for us, as any 3-year-old can intuitively work the iPad to find exactly what they want. But YouTube is not good about filtering its own content. The wrong click too easily led our 3-year-old to videos that led me to search for parental controls on iPad and seeking ways to block certain types of YouTube videos.

Here’s how you can also let your child enjoy kids videos on YouTube with the iPad, but have control over the types of videos they watch.

Set iPad Parental Controls and RestrictionsParental Controls on iPadCredit: Amazon

Start by adding some general restrictions to your iPad. This will affect all content downloaded to the iPad. Go into the “Settings” menu and choose “General.” From there click “Restrictions.” If this is your first time in Restrictions, you will be asked to create a password. Choose something your kids won’t easily crack!

In Restrictions, you can turn off apps such as YouTube completely. In the Allowed Content section you can change the default settings, which allows all explicit and up to NC-17 rated material, to your preferred parental settings. Music and podcasts can be set to “Clean” and movies and TV shows can be set by age and rating. When finished, click “General” and it should show Restrictions are now on.

It’s best to just turn off the YouTube app if you want complete control over what video content your child sees on YouTube. The only way to otherwise filter YouTube is to make an account and set the Safety Mode to "on."  The safety mode is found in tiny print at the very bottom of the website. Then you have to log in every time your child wants to use YouTube on your iPad and hope that YouTube really does filter out the objectionable material. This method is a bit risky if you have young kids.

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Download the iTubeList App

To more securely block unwanted YouTube content, but still allow your kids to view kid friendly videos, download the iTubeList app. This app is free and allows you to create lists of YouTube videos. You can choose to upgrade for 99 cents. This will allow for continuous play and make the app ad free. Since we just use this for controlled kid access to YouTube, we don’t see the need to upgrade. The kids like picking out each video from the list and the ads in the bottom left corner are barely noticeable.

What’s great about this app is it gives you videos in collections. It has some premade kids’ video categories: cartoon, Disney, fun songs, kids learning, and nursery rhymes. The fun songs list songs are particularly entertaining and some are even educational. You can select those lists and add your own. When you do a search for videos the results give you sets of videos in that category. You don’t have to search and watch individual videos to add, although watching the videos before your kids is easy enough.

For example, if you search “Thomas Trains” you get several sets of videos and each set may have dozens of individual videos. Select a set to add to your kid’s list and he will have several hours worth of kid safe YouTube videos to watch. This app is just as easy, and probably even easier, for a 3-year-old to use then the original YouTube app was. In about five minutes I had hundreds of kid safe YouTube videos set up for my children to select and watch.

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Settings and Options in the iTubeList App

There is a settings option in the iTubeList app. In this you can set for videos to auto play, choose to upgrade, and enable the delete-a-video option. There is also an 'alert your kid' option where you choose a set amount of time, such as 30 or 60 minutes. After the set amount of time, a screen appears telling your child it's time to take a break and blocks access to the videos. This did confuse my 3-year-old who came to tell me the iPad was broken. But my 5-year-old figured out how to restart the app and get back to the videos. So a password on the timer would be a nice addition for future releases of this app.

These iPad parental controls will give you piece of mind while letting your child some freedom with this high tech toy. By turning off the YouTube app in the Restrictions menu and adding iTubeList, parents and kids will be happy with the video selections on the iPad.

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