YouTube Shorts is the latest viral video sensation that has kids and teens hooked. The TikTok-style 60-second (or less) vertical videos are easy to consume on mobile devices and highly shareable, making them hugely popular among younger generations. However, with YouTube’s massive reach, Shorts also opens the door for kids to access inappropriate or harmful content.
As a parent, you want your child to be able to explore their creativity and connect with their peers online. But it’s equally important to keep them safe from content that isn’t suitable for their age. That’s where leveraging YouTube’s parental controls for Shorts comes in.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain what YouTube Shorts are, the potential risks for kids, and most importantly—how parents can set restrictions and monitor their child’s Shorts activity. We’ll also provide tips to have constructive conversations with your kids about responsible social media use.
Read on to learn all you need to know to keep your kids safe while still allowing them to engage with YouTube Shorts!
What Are YouTube Shorts?
YouTube Shorts are short-form vertical videos, similar to TikTok, that creators make and share directly through the YouTube mobile app. Some of the key features of YouTube Shorts include:
- Length: Videos can be up to 60 seconds long.
- Vertical orientation: Shorts are designed for mobile viewing in portrait mode.
- Creative tools: Basic editing features allow creators to add music, text, filters, speed controls and more.
- Accessibility: Shorts can be uploaded and viewed right within the YouTube app. There is no need to download a separate app.
- Discoverability: Shorts have their own feed where viewers can swipe vertically to discover new videos and creators.
YouTube launched Shorts as a beta test in India in 2020 before expanding it globally in 2021. Shorts has proven extremely popular, with YouTube reporting that over 1.5 billion logged-in users now watch Shorts every month.
For kids and teens already accustomed to apps like TikTok’s parental controls, Instagram Reels, and Snapchat, YouTube Shorts offers another way to explore their creative side through quick video clips.
Why Parents Should Be Cautious About YouTube Shorts
While Shorts present creative opportunities, the sheer volume of videos—and lack of oversight—also poses risks, especially for younger viewers. Here are some of the potential dangers parents should be aware of:
- Exposure to inappropriate content: With billions of Shorts available, kids can too easily come across videos with profanity, violence, sexually explicit material, and more.
- Contact with strangers: Comment sections on videos create opportunities for predators to interact with minors. Kids may also receive unwanted direct messages.
- Cyberbullying: Hurtful comments aimed at creators—including children—are an unfortunate reality on YouTube.
- Privacy concerns: When posting Shorts, kids may unknowingly reveal personal information like location. Video downloads also threaten privacy.
- Distraction/excessive use: It’s easy to lose track of time watching “just one more” Short video after another. This can interfere with sleep, schoolwork, and family time.
- Self-esteem issues: The constant comparisons and measuring of views/likes against other creators on the platform can negatively impact body image and self-worth.
- Inappropriate challenges: Trending challenges on Shorts sometimes encourage dangerous behavior like risky stunts.
As you can see, while Shorts provide entertainment and creative outlets, children’s use requires monitoring and guidance to avoid potential hazards.
YouTube’s Built-In Parental Controls
Luckily, YouTube offers robust built-in parental controls that allow you to restrict your child’s access and exposure based on their age and your preferences as a parent.
YouTube’s parental control options include:
- Limiting access to age-restricted content
- Blocking specific videos or channels
- Restricting comments and interactions
- Disabling video recommendations
- Hiding thumbnails that may be inappropriate
- Monitoring search and viewing history
- Setting daily watch time limits
- Restricting access to live streams
- Deactivating autoplay to prevent endless viewing sessions
These controls are available across YouTube, including Shorts. Here’s how to get started setting up parental controls for your child’s Shorts viewing.
Enable Restricted Mode
Restricted Mode hides videos that contain mature content. To turn Restricted Mode on:
- Open the YouTube app and tap the profile icon.
- Select “Settings”.
- Under “General”, toggle “Restricted Mode” to the on position. The toggle will turn blue when activated.
Restricted Mode will now apply across YouTube, hiding inappropriate Shorts from view.
Block Specific Channels or Videos
If you notice inappropriate Shorts coming from a specific channel, you can completely block that channel. You can also block individual Shorts. Here’s how:
- Tap the 3-dot “More” menu next to a Short or channel.
- Select “Don’t recommend channel” or “Not interested”.
- Confirm by selecting “Tell us why” when prompted.
Disable Video Recommendations
YouTube’s recommendation algorithm automatically queues up related videos, including potentially inappropriate Shorts. Turn this off:
- Go to Settings > General.
- Turn off “Video recommendations”.
You can disable video recommendations so your child will only see Shorts they directly choose rather than through YouTube’s tailored recommendation system.
Set Watch Time Limits
You can limit how much time your child spends on YouTube Shorts (and all YouTube content) each day:
- In Settings, go to the “Time watched” section.
- Toggle “Timer” on and use the slider to set a daily time limit.
- Tap “Lock timer” so that only you as the parent can adjust the limit going forward.
Once the daily limit is reached, YouTube will lock your child out until the next day.
Use YouTube Kids Instead
The YouTube Kids app provides a safer, more controlled environment tailored specifically for children with the above restrictions set by default. The standalone app does have Shorts available for kids to view but filters out inappropriate content and comments.
Have Open Conversations About Online Safety
While parental controls are key, it’s equally important to have frequent chats with your child about online safety and responsible social media use. Here are some tips:
- Discuss privacy settings and the importance of not sharing personal details publicly online.
- Talk about the permanence of anything posted online and that videos/comments can last forever.
- Make sure kids understand cyberbullying is unacceptable and set expectations on how to handle bullying if it arises.
- Cover the risks of challenges and peer pressure online to partake in dangerous viral trends simply to get views and likes.
- Instill critical thinking skills to identify misinformation and manipulation in online content.
- Encourage kids to come to you if they see inappropriate videos so you can block that content/creator.
- Set screen time limits collaboratively and enforce taking regular breaks from devices.
- Lead by example and model healthy social media habits yourself.
Proactive, open communication gives kids the knowledge to make smart decisions online and resist negative influences.
Monitor Activity with Parental Control Apps
For added protection, specialized parental control apps provide even greater insight into your child’s YouTube and YouTube Shorts activity across devices.
Parental control apps allow you to:
- View browsing history across YouTube and other websites to identify inappropriate or questionable content.
- Get alerts when concerning keywords, videos, or channels are accessed.
- See all apps downloaded on your child’s device.
- Check search terms used on YouTube and YouTube Shorts.
- Monitor live location remotely.
- Set time limits across all apps and lock down devices.
- Review social media activity happening in apps like Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp etc.
- Provide visibility into your child’s activity across social media, texts, websites, Spotify, Google Chrome and more.
FamiSafe, for example, gives parents total visibility into their child’s digital life and uses AI to detect signs of cyberbullying, depression, adult content, sexual predators, and other risks.
Adding a parental control app provides an invaluable extra layer of protection beyond the native YouTube controls.
YouTube Shorts Parental Control Options Compared
Here is a quick overview of the various YouTube Shorts parental control choices covered in this guide:
|Control||Native YouTube Tools||3rd Party Apps|
|Restrict/filter inappropriate videos||✅||✅|
|Block channels or videos||✅||✅|
|Limit daily watch time||✅||✅|
|Disable video recommendations||✅||✅|
|Read message history||❌||✅|
|Get inappropriate content alerts||❌||✅|
|View web browsing history||❌||✅|
As shown, third-party parental control apps provide the most complete set of monitoring tools and visibility into your child’s activity across all their devices.
To wrap up, here are the key tips from this guide for parents to keep kids safe while using YouTube Shorts:
- Enable Restricted Mode and disable recommendations to limit exposure to inappropriate content.
- Block concerning channels or videos as needed.
- Set time limits to prevent excessive use.
- Have open, honest talks with kids about online safety and cyberbullying.
- Monitor your child’s activity using parental control apps for full visibility.
- Lead by example and model responsible social media habits.
- Keep an open dialogue and encourage kids to come to you if they encounter inappropriate content.
While YouTube Shorts presents some risks, following this advice will allow your child to explore this popular platform safely and responsibly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I completely block YouTube Shorts?
While you cannot block Shorts entirely within YouTube, you can use the parental controls to restrict access significantly by blocking channels, limiting watch time, and enabling Restricted Mode. Alternately, you can install a third party app to block the YouTube app completely.
Are YouTube Shorts safe for kids under 13?
YouTube requires users to be at least 13 years old to create an account. However, there is still risk of kids under 13 accessing inappropriate content. Parents of younger children should maximize restrictions using YouTube Kids instead.
Can I see what inappropriate content my child has watched on YouTube Shorts?
The native YouTube parental controls do not provide visibility into specific videos viewed. To see full watch history, including inappropriate content, use a third-party monitoring app linked to your child’s account.
How can I tell if someone is cyberbullying my child via YouTube Shorts?
Warning signs include your child becoming withdrawn, distressed, or reluctant to use YouTube Shorts. Using a parental control app will alert you to concerning comments so you can intervene.
Can I moderate comments on my child’s YouTube Shorts?
Yes – creators can filter out inappropriate comments on their own videos using YouTube Studio. You can provide oversight of your child’s comment moderation within Studio as the channel owner.
What happens if my child has reached their YouTube Shorts time limit?
Once the daily time limit you set is reached, YouTube will lock your child out of watching more Shorts until the next day. Time limits reset at midnight based on your device’s time zone.
Can my child still see Shorts if I restrict their account?
With Restricted Mode enabled, time limits set, and video recommendations off, your child’s Shorts access will be very limited. They will only be able to actively search for and view specific Shorts you approve.
Should I let my child under 10 use YouTube Shorts at all?
It is safest for young children under 10 to avoid YouTube Shorts entirely. Make use of whitelisting so they can only access specific videos or channels you pre-approve on the main YouTube platform.
What happens if my child tries to watch YouTube Shorts in incognito/private mode?
Incognito and private browsing modes bypass parental control restrictions. Prevent this loophole by using a dedicated parental control app that monitors activity across all browsers and profiles.
Can I moderate YouTube Shorts comments on my child’s account?
Yes, by logging into your child’s YouTube account via Studio, parents can review, filter, and bulk delete incoming comments on their Shorts and other YouTube videos.
Following the guidance in this comprehensive YouTube Shorts parental controls guide will help you keep your kids safe while allowing them to tap into their creativity. Be sure to revisit these settings regularly as your child matures to find the right balance of autonomy and supervision for their age.
YouTube Shorts presents a fun and engaging platform for kids to express themselves through short-form videos designed for mobile viewing. However, parents need to be aware of the risks around inappropriate content, privacy concerns, excessive use, cyberbullying and viral challenges.
Leveraging YouTube’s built-in parental controls along with family communication strategies and third-party monitoring tools provides a layered approach to letting kids use Shorts safely. With a shared understanding of responsible social media habits, parents can keep kids protected without needing to ban Shorts entirely. The insight in this guide gives you the knowledge to make informed decisions about if and how your child uses YouTube Shorts.