YouTube saves dumb children from offensive content
Safety Mode is on patrol
YouTube has announced an optional feature designed to protect your dumb and impressionable kids from viewing sexual content, graphic violence, and salty comments on the website.
The new "Safety Mode" setting helps scour potentially objectionable content from YouTube that might not be nixed under its community guidelines, such as war coverage or a newsworthy video that contains violence.
In addition to filtering videos, the feature will also collapse user comments by default and censor curse words behind a veil of innocuous asterisks.
To activate the parental screen, go to the bottom of any YouTube page and click the link that says "safety mode is off." (Note: the feature is still being rolled out, and may not be available immediately.) Once activated, click save.
YouTube said safety mode can also be locked onto a browser with a YouTube account password so children can't slip past safety mode by logging off. (But of course, any reasonably sapient child may still weasel their way through by simply clearing the browser cookies, or using a different browser entirely).
Indeed, YouTube admits that "no filter is 100% perfect," but it's content that safety mode is another step in its desire to provide greater control of what our poor eyes are subjected to on the website. ®
At what age...?
At what age should a child go from "too dumb or too young to be on the net" to "free and unfettered access to everything"?
My son is 4 and currently I would not dare show him anything on YouTube - even if it was child friendly - because so much of YouTube is not appropriate for his age. Now maybe I can show him videos of a dog playing the piano or such without worrying too much about what may pop up in the comments or "related videos".
Over the next few years he will probably become quite interested in some of the things that he could find in "safe mode", but later on he will gain enough knowledge to figure out how to turn it off. By that time he will probably be old enough to cope with what he sees.
And before you ask - I don't intend to leave him on his own online now or for very many years to come, but when he is happy spending an hour watching videos suitable for a 7-year old I would rather be able to sit back with a cup of coffee than spend that hour staring at the screen with my finger hovering over the power button in case a search for "dog" turns up "dogging".
This is good (for me)
My kids like to watch videos on youtube, usually with me aswell, but as a parent, it's really annoying when they are watching an innocuous vido about Club Penguin puffles or something only to see a comment right underneath it of "Dude, this Club penguin **** sucks ***** you f***** a****h****"
(without the asterisks). So having the comments hidden by default, and swear filtered automatically means they're less likely to turn and ask me "Daddy, what does F.... mean?". I'm under no illusion that this will be wrapping them in cotton wool, but it'll help them accidentally seeing this sort of thing whilst browsing.
The other side of security theatre
This won't stop any kids. It will, however, let their parent(s) feel they've carried out their parental duties - and that's all the matters.
It could be that it is to stop little children from looking at stuff... If they can get round the basic controls they are probably ok with a bit of shooting and fighting. Children don't just pop out at 14 you know.
Salty language vs. brain damage
Alas, it does nothing to protect them from either the pervasive advertising or the crap that makes up 99.99% of YouTube content. If YouTube is your babysitter, you're hosed regardless of whether you block tits or not.