Over the last year or so, my kids have spent an unhealthy amount of time on YouTube on their iPad or the family Apple TV. It’s not so much about the time they spend on YouTube, it’s more about the quality of what they watch on YouTube, which I can’t always control or oversee.
So what may start as a couple of educational videos about the solar system can easily end up being an hour watching Preston and Briana play Minecraft. And don’t get me started about the vlogs of Sofie Dossi and her prankster friends. But I digress!
This post aims to give concerned parents like myself ways to block, lock, and restrict YouTube access on iPhone, iPad, and Mac, whether it is through the YouTube app itself, or via a web browser.
Restricting YouTube without removing YouTube
To me, the challenge in our household is to block YouTube from specific devices without necessarily making YouTube completely unavailable.
For example, I do want to block YouTube from my daughter’s iPad. I also want my kids to be unable to watch YouTube on the family Apple TV. However, I myself want to be able to watch YouTube on that Apple TV when I feel like it.
With a bit of playing around with the Settings app on my iPhone and Apple TV, I was able to come to a good compromise that will block YouTube from the kids’ devices while still allowing me to watch YouTube on the Apple TV when I so desire.
YouTube parental controls
YouTube does offer a very basic setting for parental controls, but I see two issues with this.
First, it’s not a foolproof system as it mostly relies on a video’s metadata to filter out the content. This can lead to content seeping through the net of what you want to be restricted.
Second, I just want to restrict YouTube access altogether. I don’t want my kids to ever access YouTube, because even content that is deemed safe for them can be just plain dumb (see Sofie Dossi’s reference above).
Block YouTube on your kid’s iPhone or iPad
First order of business was blocking YouTube from my daughter’s iPad. To start, I made sure the YouTube app wasn’t installed on the device. If it was, I would have deleted it.
But even without the YouTube app installed, my daughter would still be able to access the video streaming site via the web browser. So I made sure she couldn’t.
1) If you have access to your child’s iPad, go to Settings > Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions > Content Restrictions. If you have never been in this section, you will be asked to create a password. If you’ve been there before you will have to enter your password.
If you don’t have access to your child’s device but have Family Sharing set up, you can do that remotely from your iPhone by going to Settings > YourAppleID > Family Sharing > Screen Time > YourChild > Content & Privacy Restrictions > Content Restrictions.
2) Tap on the Apps tab, and select 12+. This will ensure your child can’t even install the YouTube app to begin with since the app is rated for that age group.
3) Now tap on the Web Content tab, select Limit Adult Websites, and select Add Website to add YouTube.com to the list of blocked websites. You may also block other websites you don’t want your child to access via the browser.
And this is what your child will see if they try to download the YouTube app or try to access YouTube through a web browser.
Lock YouTube on Apple TV
As mentioned above, while I don’t want my kids to ever access YouTube, I do want to be able to use the app on the family room’s Apple TV. To do so, I simply put it behind a passcode.
On your Apple TV, go to Settings > General > Restrictions > Enter Passcode (or create one) > Apps > 12+.
Just like I described above, this will block the YouTube app on the Apple TV because it is part of that age group rating.
When you want to watch YouTube on your Apple TV, you will simply have to enter your 4-digit Restrictions passcode. Obviously, make sure the kids don’t figure it out.
As far as I can tell, setting the age restriction to 12+ doesn’t block any other app. This will of course depends on what you have installed on your Apple TV, but I have yet to find another app that requires the passcode to be accessed, and that even includes tons of games from Apple Arcade.
While Screen Time allows parents to have a bit of control over their children’s devices, I still find it to be lacking the very basic functionality of being able to password-protect individual applications without jumping through the hoops described above.
- I am aware of the YouTube Kids app
- Please refrain from judging my parenting