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How to set parental controls for YouTube and Netflix

As kids turn to streaming services for content, parents should be aware of simple steps available to make viewing safer for kids

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The YouTube app and YouTube Kids app on an iPhone.

This April 25, 2018 file photo, the YouTube app and YouTube Kids app are displayed on an iPhone in New York.

Jenny Kane, Associated Press

More people than ever before are streaming videos, movies and TV shows. In 2021, Americans streamed almost 15 million years’ worth of content, according to Nielsen.

All that streaming means kids are there too and it can be tough to keep up with the content they’re consuming. But parents can take some comfort in knowing that the two streaming juggernauts, Netflix and YouTube have some helpful tools for them.


A 2021 study from Giraffe Insights and Precise TV found 85% of kids under the age of 13 in the U.S. are watching YouTube. With so much content on YouTube (including some adult content), parents should be aware of adjustments they can make to the accounts of kids under age 13, so videos are more suitable for the child’s age. 

First, make sure you and your child are using personal Google Accounts and have your family set up with Family Link in order for these parental controls to be effective.

Moms and dads can link their account to their child’s to manage what YouTube calls a ‘supervised experience.’ YouTube will disable comments, live chat, autoplay and the ability to make purchases. Kids with supervised accounts are not allowed to create a channel or upload content.

First choose from three content settings based on their age. ‘Explore’ has content with ratings for viewers who are 9+ and features vlogs, gaming videos, music videos and more, but excludes live streams. ‘Explore more’ is generally for viewers ages 13+ and has a wider variety of videos including live streams. ‘Most of YouTube’ includes almost everything on YouTube but doesn’t allow content marked 18+.

Parents also have an option of setting an account to ‘Restricted Mode’ by clicking on the profile picture for an account. Turning this on can help screen out some mature content and disables comments. Users will need to change this setting for each browser used to view YouTube and for each profile. Parents using Family Link can also turn on ‘Restricted Mode’ for children’s accounts in the app’s settings. This method will ensure a child doesn’t disable the feature.

YouTube recommends YouTube Kids for parents who “prefer a more limited experience” for their child.

YouTube Kids was developed from the beginning with kids in mind and has a more limited catalog of videos than the original YouTube. YouTube Kids has age settings for content rated for those ages 4 and under, 5-8 and 9-12 or parents can choose specific content they’d like their child to view. Parents are also able to set time limits and block certain videos.


Since 73% of US households have access to Netflix according to Nielsen, it’s another streaming service parents may want to filter for kids.

Moms and dads will want to make these adjustments on a web browser to view all the options. Start on the ‘Manage Profiles’ page to create individual profiles for each member of your family. Choose what maturity ratings are OK for each person to view. Select ‘Kids’ if you want the child to only see content Netflix has selected specifically for a younger audience. Netflix Games will not show up on a Netflix Kids profile.

Go to Account’>Profile & Parental Controls>Profile Lock to choose a PIN. Parents may want a PIN set up for their own profiles as well as for their children’s, so a child won’t be able to access a parent’s or older sibling’s account.

Netflix also launched a new feature last summer for parents. If they have set up one or more Netflix Kids profiles, the company will send bi-weekly recap emails. It will include top themes or topics charts that show what types of programs the child enjoys, printable activities that include a kid’s favorite characters and recommendations for shows the child might like. Netflix said in a news release the goal of these emails is to “help families connect around their favorite series and films or discover their next favorite.”

The abundance of content available for streaming means kids can explore the world and discover new interests like never before. But it can also mean they could possibly stumble onto videos and shows that are too mature for them. Use the parental controls and filters available to minimize that risk.