Name: YouTube

Owned by: Google, LLC

Age Rating*:

  • You must be at least 17 years old to download this app.
  • Frequent/Intense Mature/Suggestive Themes
  • Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References
  • Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content and Nudity
  • Infrequent/Mild Simulated Gambling
  • Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence
  • Infrequent/Mild Horror/Fear Themes
  • Infrequent/Mild Realistic Violence
  • Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humor
  • Infrequent/Mild Medical/Treatment Information

*Information from the App Store

Category: Photo and Video

Brief Description: View and publish videos

Operating System: IOS and Android

Available for download: Yes

Desktop version: Yes

Approximate release date: 2005

Date reviewed by Shape the Sky: January 2019


Quick Reference Guide

YouTube Quick Reference Guide

Access to Camera (device camera)
Access to Contacts (on the device)
Access to Photo Gallery (on the device)
Accounts Available for Purchase Online (eBay as an example)
Anonymous Posting (posting without a username or other identifiers)
Business Accounts (used for business)
Clear History Function
Collects Users Information
Connect with Strangers (ability to)
Cyberbullying Opportunities
Death Themes and/or Dark Content/Imagery/References
The original Faces of Death videos are on Youtube.
Designed to be Purposefully Deceptive
Direct Messaging (private)
Disappearing Messaging/Images
Eating Disorder Content/Imagery/References
One of the most popular Video Bloggers is Eugenia Cooeny
Emoji Search (search content with emoji’s like keywords or hashtags)
Firearms Content/Imagery/References
Graphic Content (images of death, car crashes etc.)
You must “sign in” to prove your age to watch some graphic content. You can pay to watch rated “R” movies. A quick search found “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Cannibal Holocaust”
Graphic Content Warning (blurring graphic content before viewing)
Group Chat Function
Here is a link to learn about the Chat function
Group Video Chatting
Hashtag Use (uses hashtags as a search/directory)
Hidden Photo Vault
Hidden Web Browser
Image Sharing
Live Streaming Function
Here is a link to learn about live streaming
Location Dependent Services (must use location for it to function)
Location Services Enabling
Login with Facebook
Marketing (sponsored content)
“Memories” (from past posts)
Mental Health Content/Imagery/References
Nudity (without clothes, no sexual acts)
Nudity is not always restricted. Sexual acts are. Anatomy videos, medical procedures, nude beaches, artistic nude videos, body painting videos are all “Age Restricted” due to the content. You can watch episodes of “The Naked News”. These are news stories done by naked reporters.
Offline Functionality (can be accessed without wifi/cell service)
Original Content (shows, news, movies)
Youtube Premium has original content. Currently this subscription is $11.99 per month.
Password Protected (beyond account password)
Photo Filters and Editing
Pornography (Refer to “Sexualized Content”)
Privacy Settings (able to set account as private)
You can set your videos to Public, Private or Unlisted.
Purchases, In-App, for Sponsored Content (unrelated to the app)
Purchases, In-App, Provided by the App (app related products)
Upgradable to Youtube Premium.
Reporting Functions (report bullying, inappropriate content)
Scoring System (trophies, points, rewards etc.)
Screen Recording Notification
Screenshot Notifications “Stories”
Screenshot Notifications Pictures/Videos
Search Function (content within the app)
Self-Injury Content
Self-Promotion (for popularity or marketing)
Sexual Accounts Accessible by Purchase
Sexualized Content (sexual acts, pictures or videos)
Porn is being uploaded to Youtube. However it seemingly get’s removed through Youtubes controls and through user reporting functions. The keywords to search for porn are always changing an unless you know the current term to use (before Youtube discovers it) then it would be difficult to intentionally find porn.
“Stories” Posts
Suicide Content
Upgradable (for more content or to remove ads)
Youtube Premium
Video Chatting
Video Sharing
Voice Chatting
Web Browsing (build into the app)
Content Levels

YouTube Content Guide

Content Levels
Drug / Alcohol Content (posts, discussion, imagery)
How-to videos for any drug or alcohol interests.
Eating Disorder (topics, content, posts, discussion, imagery, etc.)
Search “Pro Ana” or “Eugenia Cooney”
Graphic Content (images of death, car crashes etc.)
Mental Health Content
Self-Injury Content
Sexualized Topics (content, posts, imagery)
Sexualized content is often quickly flagged and removed.
Suicide Topics (content, posts, discussion)
Vaping Topics (content, posts, imagery)
How-to videos about vaping are easily accessed.
Videos of street fights and car crashes are examples of content.
Ryan’s Thoughts

I don’t like the term “dangerous apps.” Apps are not inherently dangerous. What I like to focus on is the behaviors on the apps and how we can teach responsible behaviors on any digital platform.  YouTube can be a great place to learn how to do something such as changing the oil in your car or building a treehouse, but there many other things on YouTube that you most likely want to protect your child from viewing.

I’d recommend the YouTube Kids app for kids up to age 5 or 6. YouTube Kids has some good features. Here are instructions on how to set the parental controls.

For older kids using the regular YouTube app or channel you will want to turn on the Restricted Mode. This will help catch inappropriate content and filter it out. No filter can catch everything so be aware of that. Here is a link to help you to turn on the Restricted Mode.

You must be signed into an account to view the “Age-Restricted” content. There is no way to verify age, you simply click on a warning that the content “may be inappropriate for some users.” A curious youth entering the world of puberty may turn to YouTube to learn more about their changing bodies and the bodies of the opposite sex. For an inquisitive child, a simple search of “nude woman” takes you to “Age-Restricted Videos.” A woman doing nude yoga and nude art are top results. You can also watch “Naked News” as well. These are news reporters reporting the news naked.  A “nude man” search gives you “Age-Restricted Videos” with “male nude art classes” and “male nudity.”  Searching specific male or female sexual body parts will give you medical procedures, anatomy lessons and videos of piercing procedures. These do not violate YouTube’s terms on sexualized content. Here is a link to read more about the policy on nudity.

There are videos of individuals discussing their mental health struggles such as depression, anxiety, self-injury, eating disorders and suicidal thoughts or attempts. As of this writing, most of these are designed to be inspirational and encouraging others to get help. Discuss help seeking strategies with your youth, such as what do to if they would see someone posting about eating disorders, mental health issues, depression, self-harm or suicide.

A quick search of “how-to smoke weed” gets results on how to smoke weed in your room and not get caught. “Hotbox” and “dabbing” will also get drug related “how-tos.” Kids are curious. When they start to hear about drugs, they are going to want information.  It’s better for you as the parent to have prevention discussions before they are exposed to drug content from friends or through the internet. Teach them to use the reporting functions built into YouTube and to keep an open line of communication with you as the parent. Teach them how to report videos with inappropriate content.  Here is a how-to on reporting inappropriate content.

Be aware various ways to access YouTube.  YouTube can be access through an app on a device, the web browser on a device, smart blu-ray players, smart TVs, video games and other connected devices. Here is an example of how YouTube can be accessed through the Nintendo Switch. It may be more difficult to control for content via one of these non-traditional ways to connect to YouTube.

YouTube Safety Tips:

My #1 recommendation: If you are going to let your child use YouTube, you should know how to work all of its functions first. Use some of the searches suggested above to see what’s available on YouTube and then learn how to best restrict that content. Do all of this before your child begins using YouTube. If they have already been using YouTube, no fear. Just follow the same advice and get more knowledge about YouTube. Ask general questions about what they like to watch and how they access YouTube. Watch YouTube with your child(ren). When something questionable then is viewed, you can have a conversation about it.

Here is a personal example: My kids were watching a very popular YouTube video that featured a brother and sister. They kids are in the preteen age. Their video views are in the millions.  In one video, the brother and sister gave the audience a tour of their house. They showed the audience where they kept everything in their bedrooms, the bathrooms, the kitchen and other rooms in the house. They showed the audience where they kept their computers and electronic equipment in a cabinet in the living room. I stopped the video and told my kids that if I found the YouTuber’s address online, could I go to their house and take all of their stuff because they just showed millions of people where it was. My kids easily were able to identify that this video, while fun for them to watch, was not a very wise thing to publish.

Here are some other suggestions:

  • It’s difficult to login to YouTube without being connected to a Google account which could identify your child if they have one. Our kids use the service without logging in. If your child is going to use the service logged in, here is a way to help with privacy.
  • If they are uploading videos, you have the ability to set your videos to Public, Private or Unlisted. Upload them as Private. This way only people that the uploader has given permission to can see the video and the link to the video will not be sharable (from my research).
  • If they are uploading videos, remind them to not post personal information such as drivers license, school IDs, state IDs, phone numbers, birth certificates, school schedules and other identifying information. They should not discuss where they live, their full names, schools they go to or places they frequent.
  • Turn off location services when uploading videos.
  • Know the password to the youth’s account and check the search history regularly.
  • Subscribe to their account. You can then be notified of when they post something new and you will be able to see what videos they “like” and are commenting on.
  • Report any cyberbulling or trolling behaviors. Here is some more information on what a troll is.
  • Use the reporting system when they see inappropriate content. Here is how to report content.
  • Remind them to talk to a parent if they see a concerning video (mental health, drugs, language, inappropriate content).
  • Watch the kind of content they view. There are lots of videos of people misbehaving. There are some good role models on YouTube. Here is a list of a few.
  • Even though a video is Unlisted or Private, privacy isn’t guaranteed. Once a video is shared, there is potential for it to be out of the user’s control. A digital reputation begins the moment a video is posted. What they post now could affect them later in life.
  • Stick with the age restrictions. The age restriction is 17 for the app. While this seems a bit extreme, the App Store rates it at 17 for these reasons:
    • Frequent/Intense Mature/Suggestive Themes
    • Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References
    • Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content and Nudity
    • Infrequent/Mild Simulated Gambling
    • Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence
    • Infrequent/Mild Horror/Fear Themes
    • Infrequent/Mild Realistic Violence
    • Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humor

Access to this content is much more controllable on a smart TV in your house or a tablet they are watching in the same room with you than it is on a phone when they are out of the house. I would not suggest having younger kids have the app on their phone.

~ Ryan