What do I need to know about YouTube?

We've spoken to parents to find out what they think about YouTube. We've also asked children and young people what they think. Here's what they said:

Children’s views

What do children and young people dislike about it?

14% of the children and young people who reviewed YouTube thought it was unsafe. The main things they told us they don’t like about YouTube were:

  • People write mean things in the comments of videos
  • You can see content that’s inappropriate
  • There are a lot of adverts
  • The negative attitudes of some YouTubers

What do children and young people like about it?

The main things that children and young people told us they like about YouTube were:

  • Following your favourite YouTubers
  • Listening to music
  • Learning new things from videos

Is content on YouTube suitable for children and young people?

We asked parents and young people about the types of inappropriate content they’ve seen on YouTube. The level of risk is based on the % of respondents who reported seeing these types of content. The ratings are: Low Risk (less than 5% of respondents); Medium Risk (between 5 and 25%); and High Risk (over 25%, or more than one in four).


High Risk

Violence & hatred

High Risk


High Risk

Suicide & self-harm

High Risk

Drink, drugs & crime

High Risk

What are people saying about

Girl, 14

“You are able to watch videos about things you are interested in and also learn new things. I don’t like that YouTube doesn't warn you of explicit videos before you watch them.”

Girl, 12

“It really depends on what you watch. I like how you can learn from videos like anti-bullying videos. But people are free to upload without getting warned or told off - there is way too much freedom and people take advantage of this.”

Boy, 12

“Some parts can be very safe especially in channels which are aimed at children. But there are haters, bullies and a lot of other weird people.”


“I have seen many videos encouraging racial hatred. There are too many to describe. My son has found full porn videos along with many half naked women dancing provocatively. There are also many bullying videos, mostly fights between teenagers.” – Mother of 12 and 16 yr olds


“I think that many children can enjoy YouTube and actually learn quite a bit there. However, keep a close eye on what your child is viewing and make sure it’s age appropriate. The ability to report inappropriate content is good.” – Mother of 11 and 16 yr old girls


“Watch over your kids as they use YouTube as no filter is perfect. Encourage the use of ‘YouTube Kids’. Have a frank chat with your kids explaining that not everything you watch is okay and some people put nasty stuff online.” – Father of 7 and 9 yr old boys


"YouTube allows billions of people to discover, watch and share originally-created videos. YouTube provides a forum for people to connect, inform and inspire others across the globe and acts as a distribution platform for original content creators and advertisers. YouTube is a Google company."

O2 Guru Top Tip for YouTube

O2 Guru Paul says:

"Remember to consider YouTube Kids as a safer option for younger children. YouTube Kids allows parents to set an age level and time limits."

Our O2 NSPCC Online Safety Helpline can help you to set up parental controls, adjust privacy settings or get advice on social networks. You can call us free on 0808 800 5002.

For face to face advice and support, you can also book a free in-store appointment with an O2 Guru here (even if you’re not with O2). 


What's the right age for YouTube?


YouTube says

This is from YouTube's own guidelines and is accurate as of March 2018.


Our panel of parents say

Based on 2,059 responses from children and young people in November and December 2017.


Children say

Based on 2,059 responses from children and young people in November and December 2017.


Net Aware visitors say

Based on 1645 votes from visitors to the Net Aware site – you can vote too.

What do you think?

Adjust the slider and tell us what you think is the right age to join YouTube:


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Start a conversation with your child
about YouTube

Having open, regular conversations with your child will enable you to really understand and explore the online world together, helping you to keep them safe online. Our tips and advice can help you start having these conversations.

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