Making YouTube safe for your family

The rumours are true!

Google is remaking kid-friendly versions of things like Gmail and YouTube next year. And I’m not talking about SafeSearch which doesn’t work at the best of times, but rather actual child-orientated content that encourages creativity. (And yes, I had a good laugh at this report about how much money Google has had to pay back parents due to kids “accidentally” buying apps off the Google Play Store. The answer? Lots.) But until that happens, here are a few tips on how you can make Google’s online video platform work for your family.

I love YouTube because it can be an essential educational way to keep my toddler occupied. It’s both the dinner and getting-dressed-in-the morning distraction I sometimes really need. But what I don’t like about YouTube are the ads. And how they keep moving things around. And don’t get me started on loadshedding.

Thankfully, there ways and means around all of these things that make YouTube a more family-friendly video platform.


1. Chrome AdBlock

Google Chrome is a better browser. Not because it’s easy to use and safe, you can install necessary extras like AdBlock. Once downloaded and running, AdBlock makes all forms of advertising disappear from your web browsing experience. So no matter the site, the chance of your child seeing provocative/sexual/inappropriate ad content is gone.

ChromeAdBlock | DigiKids

This works especially well when using YouTube because sometimes even watching a harmless playlist from a channel aimed at younger viewers (LittleBabyBum and Super Simple Songs are two of my best) can mean interruptive ads that may scare your little one.

2. Subscribe to the right channels

Sign into YouTube using your Gmail account and hit subscribe when you come across a channel you like. Not only will you be kept up to date with new videos when they get uploaded with push notifications to your phone, it will be easier to locate a specific enjoyable or educational video at a later stage.

I like to watch every video before my child sees it, just to make sure the content/themes are appropriate viewing material.


3. Playlists

Watching a channel’s curated Playlist is great, but not if there is a particular video your child doesn’t like. (Yes, violin-playing penguins, I’m looking at you.) So the next best thing is to create your own personalised playlist of preferred YouTube videos.

YouTubePlaylist_1 | DigiKids

Here’s how:


  • Make sure you’re signed into your Google account using your gmail address (the same email you would use for Google Docs, Google Drive and the Google Play Store).
  • Find the video that you want to add to a YouTube playlist.
  • Once you’ve clicked on the video, there will be a few links at the bottom – Add to, Share, More. Click on ‘Add to’ to bring up the playlist options.
  • Here, you can choose to add the video to an existing playlist or create a new one.
  • Give the YouTube playlist a name and decide if you’d like other YouTube users to see your playlist, or if you would prefer it to remain private.
  • The next time you’d like to bring up your favourite videos, it will be under the Playlists menu in the main YouTube menu on the left.


4. Download YouTube Videos

If loadshedding is driving you batty or your internet connection is too slow to play a YouTube video without buffering, you can actually download videos off YouTube. (Yes you can!) The easiest way to do this is with a free Windows and Mac application called ClipGrab.

YouTubePlaylist_2 | DigiKids

For more information on YouTube’s community-driven safety mode, click here.

Download and open ClibGrab, paste the URL of the YouTube video, select a format and resolution – try MPEG 4 and 480p for a medium-sized file – decide where the video should be downloaded to and you’re done.

ClipGrab | DigiKids


5. Putting videos onto an Android tablet

So now that you have all the videos on a folder on your desktop but have decided (yes, this is what happened to me) it would be better for them to be on a tablet, you may hit a stumbling block. That’s if your computer is from Apple. The best way to move content from a MacBook Air or Pro to an Android tablet is with a small, free programme called Android File Transfer. Once installed, your Android device will turn into a drag-and-drop folder you can move files onto. So easy. And to play videos, I recommend VLC for Android.

Alice Ying

Alice is a new mom from Durbs. She is also a digital whiz, Apple fangirl and early adopter of all-things tech. She loves her little ones of both the furry and human variety and likes to try out gadgets for both.

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