Anyone with kids has likely been in this situation: you’re waiting somewhere—in line, at a restaurant, at the doctor’s office, etc.—and your kid just isn’t having it. Darling little Susie is really showing what she’s got, so you do whatever you can to get her to chill out, which usually means pulling out the ol’ smartphone, loading up YouTube, and handing it over.
This is great for a quick fix, and the odds are she already knows how to navigate the interface and watch all the Peppa Pig her little heart can handle. So precious.
But there’s a much darker, less-often talked about side here: your YouTube viewing history. The next thing you know, you’re getting “Watch it again” suggestions for Bubble Guppies and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, “Recommended” episodes of Doc McStuffins, and all sorts of other junk that has nothing to do with, well, you.
Fortunately, there are a couple of ways to avoid this scenario.
How to Clear or Pause YouTube History
First, you can clear your YouTube History, so those videos don’t show up. However, you can also pause your YouTube history before you hand them the phone—thus ensuring those videos don’t show up in your history in the first place. There’s one downside: it also keeps your viewing habits out of your history. It’s up to you whether that’s worth it.
To clear or pause your YouTube viewing and search history, navigate to the YouTube website, then click the History link. It’s worth mentioning here that this can’t be done from the app—it has to be done from the website, either on the desktop or the mobile site.
You’ll be taken to the Watch History page, where, you’ll see a button to “Clear All Watch History” and “Pause Watch History”. One click of that second button and all videos viewing from there on out will be hidden from your viewing history (until you turn it back on).
To take this one step further, you can click the “Search History” tab, then click the clear or pause button there. This will prevent searches from being logged as well.
Remember: you must re-enable these features in order to start logging searches and viewing history again!
The Better Solution: YouTube Kids
Neither of those are really good long-term options, though. Instead, there’s a better solution: use the YouTube Kids app. I get the question covered here all the time, and I’m still shocked at how few people know about YouTube Kids.
Basically, this is an official Google app—available for both iOS and Android—that is designed just for kids. It has a kid-friendly interface, parental controls, keeps adult content away from little eyes, and, maybe best of all, keeps all searches and watches out of your history. It’s a win-win-win.
First, install the app from your phone’s respective app store.
When you first fire up the app, you’ll have to set it up. I recommend doing this ahead of any sort of I’m-going-to-flip-my-lid-if-I-don’t-get-Peppa-soon crisis from your child.
The app will first ask you to enter a four-digit code that is spelled out on the screen—a simple form of security.
Once entered, a short walkthrough will begin. This tells you a little bit about YouTube Kids and how it works, then lets you set what age group little Bobby falls into.
Lastly, you can enable or disable search—if you leave it off, your child will basically only be able to watch what the app recommends for him or her. Your call here, but I like leaving it on.
If you have a YouTube Red account, you can verify that in the next step, allowing you to save videos for offline playback. This is a great way to keep stuff stored on your device so young Henry doesn’t demolish your data cap on a Blaze and the Monster Machines binge.
To confirm your Red account, just tap the “Send consent email” button. Once the email arrives, just input your activation code. Simple.
From here, you can set a storage limit and video quality.
And with that, you’re all done. You can set time limits and other things in settings—each time you do this, you’ll have to first input a code like in the first step of the setup process. This should keep most younger little ones away from the settings, but as soon as they can read all is fair game. You’ve been warned.
The app works a lot like the YouTube app you know and love, so the learning curve (both for you and little Timmy) is essentially null—the interface is just designed for tiny humans. You can read more about YouTube kids in our feature on the subject, but these are the basics—which should get you watching videos in no time.
Now, go forth with this new knowledge and let young Herbert enjoy all sorts of Paw Patrol while you have a nice, relaxing dinner at The Waffle Hut.
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