YouTube's First Step At Filtering for Families
10, 2010, YouTube released a feature on its incredibly popular site that will
allow parents to "lock" the website in "Safety Mode" and filter many
objectionable videos. While the company is quick to point out that no filtering
system is going to work perfectly, the site says their new Safety Mode should
prevent young people from having access to many videos that contain adult
content. When the filtering is enabled, it also hides text comments for videos
until a user clicks on them. After other user comments are revealed, the
often-frequent use of offensive words and profanities are replaced with
I gave the
new mode a test run on our family computer, and was only somewhat pleased with
the results. To use it effectively, you must first sign in to your own YouTube
account (you can create one very quickly if you don't already have an account).
Then you scroll to the bottom of any YouTube page and look for the little line
on the bottom left that says, "Safety Mode is off." Clicking on this link will
allow you to engage safety mode. There is also a "lock" button you can select
which will keep YouTube in Safety Mode on that particular browser.
if your child has his or her own YouTube account? I'm happy to say that after
signing out of my account, I signed back in to my son's profile. Sure enough,
the browser remained locked in Safety Mode. When I tried to unlock it, it told
me that I had to sign in under my own username and password to make that happen.
welcome this addition to YouTube, sadly there are some flaws with this valuable
new feature. Even with Safety Mode on, I could still see videos I would rather
not have my kids watching. "Hot girls" shooting guns in bikinis, lingerie videos
and frequent explicit profanities within videos all still seem to be family fare
on YouTube. Considering YouTube's current policy of not allowing any nudity
within a sexual context anywhere on the site, I wondered what the filter was
videos on YouTube that are behind a flimsy age verification barrier. For
example, a news story about a pack of naked Canadians riding bikes in protest of
oil companies was in this section. With Safety Mode enabled, it made it
impossible to even see the age verification screen, thus increasing the
effectiveness of securing YouTube's more edgy content. It also made searching
for obvious sexual terms, like "naked" or "nude," impossible.
fear with this new YouTube feature is my wondering if the site may be setting up
for delivering more adult and even pornographic content in the future. Just as
increased sex and violence on television has been justified by parents being
handed the V-chip, I hope the overall policy of YouTube not allowing any nudity
within a sexual context -- even in the "adult" area of the site -- will not
change in the future. For now, YouTube's new filtering is a positive move that
helps parents. Yet, for the future, parents -- as always -- must be cautious
about what content may appear on this site that is beginning to replace the TV
set as the center of video entertainment.
Besides writing this column for the Parents Television Council, Rod Gustafson authors Parent Previews® - a newspaper and Internet column (published in association with movies.com) that reviews movies from a parent's perspective. He's also the film critic for a major Canadian TV station, various radio stations and serves on the executive of the Alberta Association for Media Awareness. Finally, his most important role is being the father to four wonderful children and husband to his beautiful wife (and co-worker) Donna.
and the Media by Rod Gustafson
Television Council -
Click here to comment on this column