Only 10% of US parents say YouTube must deal with inappropriate videos

In a new US survey commissioned by Common Sense Media, 81% of parents say they alone are responsible for preventing their kids from seeing inappropriate videos on YouTube. 
March 1, 2018

While YouTube has been busy cracking down on inappropriate content (and enlisting more than 10,000 moderators to lead the charge), US org Common Sense Media has taken up the task of investigating whether anything on the video-sharing platform has changedor even needs to.

A January SurveyMonkey study commissioned by Common Sense Media has found that among more than 1,000 US parents whose children watch YouTube videos, 62% say their kids have seen inappropriate content on the site. But despite media-driven concerns about what YouTube should be doing to handle matters, 81% of parents say preventing kids from seeing inappropriate videos is a parent’s job. In fact, only 10% say the responsibility lies with YouTube.

To that end, 37% of parents don’t use YouTube’s parental controls (but are aware of them), and 22% didn’t know YouTube even offered these safety features. For the most part, though, parents seem to be aware of what kids are watching online, with 70% saying they are “extremely or very aware,” and an additional 24% saying they are “somewhat aware.”

As to where children are watching YouTube, 44% of parents say it is on the website, followed by the YouTube app (37%) and YouTube Kids (24%). And while most parents admit that kids are easily able to find and watch inappropriate videos, 58% think YouTube is at least “somewhat safe,” and 60% think that YouTube does a “very good, good or acceptable job” at preventing children from seeing inappropriate content.

The report comes as Common Sense continues to look into concerns surrounding kids’ digital addictions. The org recently joined with former Google and Facebook execs to launch a campaign addressing tech industry practices and their impact on kids. The group’s Truth About Tech campaign rose out of a coalition of experts (including Common Sense) coming out against Facebook’s new Messenger Kids, citing concerns that the app will undermine healthy childhood development by increasing the amount of time spent on digital devices.

Now, the organization is diving deeper into the issue, finding in the same survey that 47% of parents feel their children are “addicted” to their mobile devices. Half of parents say that they are at least somewhat concerned that their child’s mobile device is negatively affecting their mental health. And 18% say they are “extremely” or “very” concerned.

Even still, a majority of parents (89%) say that they are primarily responsible for limiting children’s time spent on mobile devices. Recently, two large investors in Apple (New York-based Jana Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System) urged the iPhone maker to curb smartphone addiction among children. In response, Apple promised to make its devices safer for children with new features and tools.

Common Sense Media’s online poll was conducted between January 25 and 29, and gathered results from 4,201 adults including 1,024 parents with children under 18 years old. The complete Common Sense YouTube survey can be found here.


About The Author
Alexandra Whyte is Kidscreen's News & Social Media Editor. Contact her at



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