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How to block YouTube on an iPad or iPhone

Try not to be draconian with older kids unless you have to.
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Published onAugust 9, 2023

Parents and teachers know that as useful as Apple devices can be for entertaining and educating a child, YouTube can be a trap. Even putting aside worries about offensive or extremist content, it’s possible for kids to get distracted watching mindless clips, much like us adults sometimes. Here’s how to block YouTube on an iPad or iPhone you hand to a child — or, for a middleground, how to simply limit their time with it.

How to block YouTube on an iPad or iPhone

To successfully block YouTube, you’ll have to target both the app and browser access — even preschool kids are often technically savvy enough these days to bypass simple restrictions.

Blocking the YouTube app

  • Open Settings, make sure you’re signed into the right Apple ID (see below), then select Screen Time. If it’s your first time using Screen Time, you’ll be asked to enable it and create a passcode.
  • If you have Family Sharing enabled via your own Apple ID, tap on your child’s name and then Content and Privacy Restrictions. If you don’t have Family Sharing active, you’ll have to go to Settings > Screen Time > Content and Privacy Restrictions on the specific iPad or iPhone you want to censor. The second option will work regardless of which Apple ID you’re signed into, but be warned that changes will affect your own devices if they share the same account.
  • Tap Content Restrictions and enter your passcode.
  • Tap Apps.
  • Choose an appropriate age limit. In the case of YouTube, that means anything under 12.

Since the regular YouTube app (not YouTube Kids) is rated for people 12 and older, this will prevent any access.

Blocking the YouTube website

  • Open Settings, make sure you’re signed into the right Apple ID (see below), then select Screen Time. If it’s your first time using Screen Time, you’ll be asked to enable it and create a passcode.
  • If you have Family Sharing enabled via your own Apple ID, tap on your child’s name and then Content and Privacy Restrictions. If you don’t have Family Sharing active, you’ll have to go to Settings > Screen Time > Content and Privacy Restrictions on the specific iPad or iPhone you want to censor. The second option will work regardless of which Apple ID you’re signed into, but be warned that changes will affect your own devices if they share the same account.
  • Tap Content Restrictions and enter your passcode.
  • Select Web Content, then Limit Adult Websites.
  • Under Never Allow, tap Add Website.
  • Type in https://www.youtube.com to block the main site and all its subdomains.

Crucially this filter applies not just to Apple’s Safari browser, but every third-party alternative as well, including Chrome and Firefox.

How to limit YouTube time on an iPad or iPhone

Blocking YouTube entirely can sometimes be a bad idea. It’s often legitimately helpful, and for an otherwise responsible kid, pure entertainment can be nice reward. Thankfully, Apple offers a way to keep viewing time in check.

  • Open Settings, make sure you’re signed into the right Apple ID (see below), then select Screen Time. If it’s your first time using Screen Time, you’ll be asked to enable it and create a passcode.
  • If you have Family Sharing enabled via your own Apple ID, tap on your child’s name and then App Limits. If you don’t have Family Sharing active, you’ll have to go to Settings > Screen Time > App Limits on the specific iPad or iPhone you want to censor. The second option will work regardless of which Apple ID you’re signed into, but be warned that changes will affect your own devices if they share the same account.
  • Tap Add Limit and enter your passcode.
  • Tap the arrow to the right of Entertainment.
  • Select YouTube, then Next.
  • Choose a time limit and toggle on Block at End of Limit. You may also want to use the Customize Days option to be more flexible, for instance allowing more time on Saturdays.
  • When you’re done, tap Add.