The touchscreen-enabled Amazon Echos (the Echo Shows) are really useful devices, giving easy access to smart home management, playing music – and YouTube. You can just say “Alexa, open YouTube” and you have instant access to over a billion videos.
Unless, of course, you sometimes put YouTube on for your children – and they then pull up videos that are inappropriate for children. Can this be resolved? Well, the short answer is…
You can (sort of) block YouTube on an Echo Show, and instead force your children to watch YouTube Kids instead. However you can also make the standard YouTube child-safe, with a few simple steps.
Let’s dive in by firstly quickly recapping on what Echo Shows are and how they work. A video version of this guide is below – or keep reading for the text guide.
Features of the Amazon Echo Show
Amazon Echo devices are a range of smart speakers that make it simple to get news updates, play music, set reminders and alarms, and more. Many of the earlier models were small “puck” like devices – known as Echo Dots.
Amazon then decided to add a touchscreen, resulting in the Amazon Echo Show range:
These allow you to view smart camera and doorbell feeds, watch videos on YouTube, make and receive video calls, turnings lights on and off, and more.
However all this power has a downside…
The Problem With Allowing Unrestricted YouTube Access
YouTube has over a billion videos. Whilst it’s naturally awesome that the Echo Show gives simple access to billions of videos, there’s a downside too: the Echo Show gives simple access to billions of videos!
If your children are around and you turn your back for a second, they might end up on a violent or ‘NSFW’ video. Uh oh.
My son was just over two years old when he learnt how to navigate YouTube on the Echo Show! Clearly it’s not suitable to allow them to surf billions of potentially-unsafe videos, so I set out looking for a solution.
Luckily there’s two potential solutions here:
- Enable YouTube Kids on the Echo Show, and block YouTube.
- Still use standard YouTube, but make it children friendly.
I’ll start off with the first solution, however sometimes YouTube Kids is too slow or buggy on the Echo Show, so I cover the second solution too.
How To ‘Enable’ YouTube Kids on an Echo Show
The first thing to know about the Echo Show is that it is not app based. In other words, it’s not like a phone where you can simply install the “YouTube Kids” app and then uninstall/disable the “YouTube” app:
The Echo Show uses proprietary software that Amazon developed, meaning that you can’t simply go to the app-store and download YouTube Kids.
Fortunately, Amazon have bundled an internet browser into the Echo Show. This used to be Firefox, but it’s now Amazon Silk:
And thankfully YouTube Kids is available as a website – at youtubekids.com. So you can enable YouTube Kids on an Echo Show simply by hitting the address bar, and typing in “youtubekids.com”.
You’ll then come to a setup process where you will need to login to a Google account, read (and accept) some terms and conditions – and then enter a child’s details (I didn’t enter my son’s full name).
Whilst most of the setup process is fairly straightforward, I did have two issues along the way:
- Some of the layout was a bit broken, meaning I could barely see the “I’m a parent” button on the 8″ Echo Show. This issue might be better or worse on the 5″ and 10″ Show models, however going into desktop mode (by pressing the monitor icon at the top) usually fixed the layout issues.
- After logging into my Google account, I had a blank page (this happened on both my Echo Show devices). To resolve this, I had to go to youtubekids.com again, and repeat many of the same setup steps. But on the second time, it worked fine.
So after a slightly bumpy setup process, you can go back to youtubekids.com. Doing this will then load the following:
Notice how the layout is broken? To fix this, click the computer monitor icon which is to the left of the “amazon silk” text at the top. This will make the webpage work as you’d expect:
You’re now ready to go: YouTube Kids is ‘enabled’ on your Show, and it should hopefully be a safe environment for your children to view content on.
But you might want to go one step further and block standard YouTube on the Echo Show.
How To Block YouTube (& Other Sites) on the Echo Show
When making your Echo Show ‘child safe’, there’s an obvious issue: saying “Alexa, open YouTube”… will open YouTube! It won’t open YouTube Kids instead. Equally Amazon Silk often opens YouTube (not YouTube Kids) when you relaunch it.
As a result, there’s a few things you can do to ‘remove’ YouTube on your Echo Show.
Remove the YouTube Bookmark
One easy way of ‘disabling’ YouTube on your Echo Show is to click the bookmarks section (this is the icon to the right of the address bar), and remove the “m.youtube.com” bookmark by pressing the “pencil” icon:
Then click “Remove bookmark” and say yes if it asks you to confirm your choice.
Whilst this doesn’t “uninstall” YouTube on the device, it at least makes it harder to access it going forward.
Change What “Alexa, open YouTube” Does
This is a fairly important step. As mentioned earlier, saying “Alexa, open YouTube” will launch Amazon Silk and automatically navigate to “m.youtube.com” – which isn’t ideal!
Thankfully, you can override this behaviour using Alexa routines. To do this, launch your Alexa app and go to “More” and then “Routines”. Add a new routine by clicking the plus/add icon:
A routine has two parts: a trigger (such as saying “open YouTube”), and an action (what you want to do).
In this case, we want the trigger to be your voice saying “open YouTube”. We then want the action to instead open Amazon Silk. So for the action, click “Customized” and enter “open Silk”.
You can then save the routine. This means that when someone says “Alexa, open YouTube”, it will reply with “Opening silk” and it no longer launches “m.youtube.com” (i.e. standard YouTube). Hooray!
That’s great, but standard YouTube will still be stuck in the browser history. Which brings us onto our next step.
Clear Browser History so YouTube Doesn’t Appear
If you clear the browser history entirely, standard YouTube will be removed – meaning that in theory your children should never see it as an option again.
After all, there’s no real point in removing the bookmark or changing the “Alexa, open YouTube” behavior of standard YouTube keeps appearing in the address bar.
To clear the browser history on an Echo Show, click the bookmarks icon at the top, and then click “Settings”:
Then click on “Privacy and security”, and finally press the “Clear browsing data” option:
This will remove “m.youtube.com” from your address bar, and it should hopefully prevent accidental presses from re-opening standard YouTube.
Block YouTube in Your Router
At this point, you should have safely ‘removed’ YouTube on your Echo Show. But if you’re able to, blocking it on your router will be the ultimate way of stopping your children from accessing it.
Not all routers support this, but more modern routers including the Eero routers do support this feature:
The exact steps for doing this will vary per router, but in the Eero app you can block specific websites under the “Discover” section. Whilst “Block Apps” should work, it might block YouTube Kids too – which might not be ideal!
So in my case, I went to “Block & Allow Sites” and I blocked just “m.youtube.com”:
You can either block this site for all devices on the network, or you can add a profile (just for your Echo Show devices) and then block the site just for that profile. Either option will work fine – it just comes down to your preference.
At this point, your device should be fairly safe. But what happens if YouTube Kids is too slow on your Echo Show? In this case, there are some steps to make standard YouTube a little more child-friendly.
How To Make YouTube Safe on an Echo Show
I have two Echo Show devices. Both are 8″ ones, but YouTube Kids is really slow on one of them (and quite fast on the other).
This is pretty frustrating, because it means that I can’t just block standard YouTube and move on with my life. I decided to instead use YouTube Kids on one of my Echo Shows, and to use standard YouTube on the other.
There’s three main steps to take, to make standard YouTube a bit more child friendly:
Step 1 – Sign-in to YouTube
You start off logged out of YouTube on your Echo Show. This means that you can’t apply any account-specific settings that will make the YouTube more child friendly. It also means that any inappropriate recommendations that you remove (which I discuss in step 3) might pop back up in the future.
So click “Sign In” (this might also be a person icon) at the top, enter your email address and password, and you should then be logged in:
At this point, you’ll notice that the recommendations are much more tailored to you. Of course, this might be a bad thing for child-friendliness, too, if you have logged into your own account. So you might want to register a new Google account, which you then only use for children.
Once you’re logged into your child-friendly account, we can move onto blocking out inappropriate videos.
Step 2 – Enable “Restricted Mode”
Restricted Mode is a great option, which screens out “mature content”. As a result, this is definitely worth enabling for child friendliness. To do this, click on your image in the top right, and scroll down to “Settings”.
Click on “Account”, and you will see a “Restricted Mode” setting:
Make sure you toggle this to be on. However please note the warning text – “No filter is 100% accurate”. As a result, it’s probably worth now going back to the YouTube homepage and blocking out inappropriate and irrelevant recommendations.
Step 3 – Keep Removing Inappropriate Recommendations
Now that you are logged in, you can flag recommended videos and channels as inappropriate. The more you do this, the better tailored the content recommendations will be.
To do this, you can click the three dots next to a video:
From here, you can either choose:
- “Not interested”, if you don’t like the look of that particular video
- “Don’t recommend channel”, if you’d prefer not to see any videos from that channel.
You may need to do this quite a few times, but eventually the content recommendations will get better and better.
Also remember that watching videos is also key to what videos YouTube recommend. So search for various videos that your children like, and watch a few seconds of them. This will also improve the content recommendations – putting up more children-friendly videos in the suggestion areas.
If you’re concerned about your children viewing potentially inappropriate videos on YouTube, steering them towards YouTube Kids is often the best approach.
However YouTube Kids can be buggy and slow depending on your model, so if you need to fall back to standard YouTube, don’t fear because you can make it fairly safe for children too.
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