Do the YouTube and Google search fans at your house know about SafeSearch and Safety Mode? Google made these safety tools available starting a few years ago (see my 2009 post about the former here), but software engineer Matthias Heiler just posted a heads-up about them for users who might be a little more active online during summer vacation.
Even before summer was in full swing, 182 million Americans watched nearly 41 billion online videos in May, according to the latest data available from comScore. So in his blog post, Heiler explains how to use Safety Mode in YouTube and to block videos that have been flagged by other viewers as containing inappropriate content, as well as how to lock that setting in on that particular browser (if you want Safety Mode on for any Web browser on that computer or device, you’ll need to turn it on in each browser). Heiler also explains how to use SafeSearch to block explicit content from turning up in search results on both computers and cellphones – as well as how to lock the setting in. Here, too, you’ll need to turn it on in each browser you use on that computer or phone. I you choose to use SafeSearch, it might help to have two accompanying rules: that people use only Google on that machine and, if anybody’s in doubt about how to spell a Web address, just search for it (rather than guessing in the browser window).
But never take the term “parental control tool” literally. Even Google tells you “no filter is 100% accurate, but [Safety Mode and SafeSearch] should help you avoid most inappropriate content.” See this study from EU Kids Online about kids’ own concerns about exposure to inappropriate video. And for more on these tools, here are YouTube’s Safety Center and Google’s Family Safety Center.