Protecting children online is a goal most of us want to achieve. After all, with millions of gigabytes of data online, your little ones are going to run into some unsavory material sooner or later. Sadly, a lot of it is available on popular websites and apps like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.
There’s also another equally important goal to consider. Namely, people spend an average of 19 minutes a day on YouTube. However, that number is a median and doesn’t show the differences between adults and children. In addition, there are lots of adults who spend hours and hours on the platform instead of doing something productive or learning a new skill. And one of those adults could very well be you if you don’t do something about it.
One way of steering your child, as well as yourself, in the right direction regarding YouTube is to block it outright on whatever device you use. In this article, you’ll learn 8 different ways of achieving just that. If you’re a concerned parent or guardian, we recommend sharing this article with all of your friends whose kids spend a little too much time on YouTube. Alternatively, recommend it to your friends who are having a tough time focusing on work or studies.
Depending on your preference, you’ll probably be using one of four major browsers to access the internet:
Granted, there are other browsers out there, like Microsoft Edge, Vivaldi, Brave, and UC, but those are nowhere near as popular as the main four. However, we will address methods of blocking YouTube on PC later in the article, regardless of what browser you tend to use.
If you’re a Chrome user, you’ll want to use an extension called BlockSite. Here’s the long and short of it:
- Enter Chrome;
- Go to the Web Store;
- In the Extensions section, choose BlockSite in the search bar and hit Enter;
- When the extension page appears, tap Add to Chrome and wait for it to install;
- Click on the extension and wait for the drop-down menu;
- Click the Block Websites tab;
- In the text bar, add www.youtube.com;
- Click Add Item.
The extension is easy enough to use, and you can remove YouTube from the list of blocked websites just as easily as you added it. It’s worth pointing out that the free version of BlockSite allows you to add up to six URLs.
Firefox users will also require an add-on for blocking websites, so we recommend going with one that has a similar name to the Chrome Extension, i.e., Block Site.
The installation process is as follows:
- Open Firefox;
- Go to the official Add-on page;
- In the search bar, type Block Site and tick the first result (the add-on was made by Ray/Raylothian);
- Click on Add to Firefox;
- When you see the “Add Block Site?” prompt pop out, click on Add;
- Once installed, click the Okay, Got It button on the prompt;
- Go to the hamburger menu in the top-right corner and click on it;
- Pick the Add-ons option (or hit CTRL+SHIFT+A);
- Find Block Site and click the three dots next to it;
- In the drop-down menu, click Options;
- In the given prompt, type the YouTube page link into the Block a new hostname bar;
- Click the Add button once you’re done;
- In the Tools section, click on the Save Options button.
This add-on also allows you to enter specific times when you don’t want access to a blocked website. For example, you can block YouTube on different weekdays between midnight and 7 am. That way, your child may still have access to the platform, but only during the day. Alternatively, the add-on can block the app for your employees during working hours so they can focus on their tasks and not waste time watching videos.
Like the previous two browsers, Opera also uses extensions, and Raylothian’s Block Site is right there, ready for download.
With the new Opera versions, the process of blocking a website is as follows:
- Open Opera;
- Click on the Opera symbol in the top-left corner and wait for the drop-down menu;
- Click Extensions, then tap Get Extensions;
- On the addons page, click on the text bar and type in Block Site, then hit Enter;
- Find Raylothian’s Block Site extension, then click Add to Opera for it to install;
- When installed, go to YouTube’s front page;
- Click on the little cube icon in the top-right corner of the taskbar (alternatively, it could be on the left side of the page, underneath History and Bookmarks);
- When prompted, pick the Block Site option;
- A pop-up window will ask if you want to proceed with the block; hit OK.
- Click Settings when you enter the browser;
- Tap Security & Privacy, then pick Site Settings;
- Click Content;
- Pick the Images section;
- Among the options, navigate to Not allowed to show images and click the Add button next to it;
- Type YouTube’s URL in the text box and hit Add.
While Mac users can install any of the browsers above, more often than not, they will use Safari as the default. In order to block YouTube on this browser, you’ll have to do the following:
- Tap the Apple icon in the top-left corner, then pick System Preferences;
- Click Screen Time (the hourglass icon);
- Pick Content & Privacy;
- Click the Turn on… option;
- Under Web Content, choose Limit Adult Websites;
- Tap Customize;
- Under the Restricted menu, tap the “+” icon in the corner;
- Enter YouTube’s URL in the prompt;
- Click OK, and once you see YouTube on the Restricted menu’s list, click OK again.
While kids today do use PCs, most of them usually view YouTube videos on either their smartphone or a tablet. The same is true for adults; around 85% of people above the age of 18 owned at least one smart device in 2021.
What follows are instructions that can help you block YouTube on any touchscreen device.
Right now, Android doesn’t really offer any built-in way to block YouTube, so you’ll have to download third-party apps like Freedom. However, you can still restrict the app manually:
- In your Settings, tap Apps and find YouTube;
- Tap on YouTube, then tap Notifications;
- Scroll down until you find the More Settings prompt and click on it;
- Tap General;
- Scroll down and toggle the Restricted Mode option to turn it on.
Modern Android apps also have the so-called Digital Wellbeing or Digital Balance section in Settings, where you can adjust potential restrictions both for yourself and the child. When you pick this option, you’ll get the Parental Controls prompt. Tap it and proceed to set up your password or PIN. Once you’re there, you will be asked to choose the apps you want to block. Select YouTube and tap Block.
There are similar methods to adding parental controls from the app’s own settings or even the settings at the Play Store itself. While this process does prevent the child from entering the app, they can still access it if they find out the password or the PIN. In other words, it’s not exactly foolproof.
If you own an iPhone, you can either restrict the use of YouTube or delete the app entirely. In addition, you can block the app on your phone’s Safari using the same method as listed above.
To restrict YouTube on iPhones, you’ll have to follow these steps:
- Under your phone’s Settings, pick Screen Time;
- Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions;
- First, enable Content & Privacy Restrictions when prompted, then tap Content Restrictions;
- Tap Apps;
- Set the limit to any amount below 12+. Since the app itself is for users 17 and over, it will effectively be blocked from use.
Deleting the app is fairly straightforward. By long-pressing the YouTube icon, first select Remove App, then Delete App, and finally Delete. But there’s always the possibility of someone reinstalling the app on the phone. In order to prevent that from happening, you’ll want to apply the following:
- Using the same steps from the restriction method, go to Content & Privacy Restrictions;
- From there, go to iTunes & App Store Purchases and pick Installing Apps;
- Of the two options, choose Don’t Allow.
Once this step is done, the app store will simply not appear on the phone, so your child will not be able to download YouTube or any other app for that matter.
If you’re using a PC and you want to filter the child’s online presence, set up a Microsoft Family account for them. Once you do, you can proceed with the following:
- Click on the Windows icon and find Settings;
- Click on Accounts;
- Find the Family & Other Users option and click on it;
- Select Add a family member and follow the steps about adding your child’s account to the list;
- Sign in to your administrator account;
- In your child’s account settings, pick Apps, games & media;
- Find Limit apps, games, and media from the Store;
- Add YouTube to the list.
This method is the most complex, as it involves manually editing an operating system file. It will completely block YouTube from any PC until you re-edit the file yourself.
The entire process is as follows:
- In the Windows search bar, look for Notepad and run it as an administrator;
- Click Open in Notepad’s File menu;
- Navigate to the following location: Local Disk(C) → Windows → System32 → drivers → etc. (NOTE: pick the All Files option so that you can see everything in this folder);
- Click on the file named Hosts and open it;
- At the end of the text, add these two lines: 127.0.0.1 youtube.com and 127.0.0.1 www.youtube.com;
- Finally, click File, and then Save.