A whole generation of kids are growing up with YouTube for the first time in history. Remember, there was no such thing as YouTube as little as fifteen years ago.
So while being a professional YouTuber may seem like an unusual and exotic career choice for those of us born… let’s say “a little earlier”, it is an established industry for today’s children. It makes sense, then, that kids might aspire to become a YouTuber.
At the same time, it is perfectly natural for you, the parent, to have concerns about the safety and legalities of setting up a YouTube channel for your child. The Internet has proven to be a very useful tool for those who are prepared to harm children, be it through written or verbal abuse, or something far more sinister.
If you find yourself asking, “can I create a YouTube account for my child?”, then you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to give you all the information you need about this topic. Unfortunately, we can’t give you a clear cut answer up top—something we like to do whenever possible—because the answer is yes… and no. It depends on the child.
Can I Create a YouTube Account for My Child?
Most people would agree that a thirteen-year-old is a child—they certainly are in the eyes of the law. YouTube may not see a thirteen-year-old as an adult, but that is the age where they deem a child old enough to have their own YouTube account, though they still require parental permission up to the age of seventeen.
So, yes, you can create an account for your child—if that child is over the age of thirteen. This applies regardless of whether your child will be just watching YouTube, or actively making videos.
If you are only looking to set up a YouTube account for your child so that they can watch content, all is not lost. YouTube Kids is designed specifically for this purpose.
As a signed-in parent, you can create a kids profile that will allow you to set viewing preferences and recommendations, which is great for families with more than one child. YouTube Kids profiles are not merely about keeping inappropriate content away from young eyes—though that is an important part of it.
It is also about COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule) regulations, and not storing specific data about underage users. That is why YouTube will not allow you to set up a full account for your under-thirteen child, even if you were willing to disregard any safety or privacy concerns that might arise. This also extends to the YouTube browser experience.
If your child is signed in and attempts to go to youtube.com, they will be told that they can only access YouTube Kids. They will also be told that YouTube Kids is not available in-browser, which can be irritating for some parents who don’t necessarily want their child staring at a tiny phone screen for too long.
If, on the other hand, you do want to set the account up so that your child can make videos, you will have to wait until they are over thirteen, as YouTube Kids accounts cannot upload video.
We wouldn’t advise lying about your child’s age to open an account early, as that could lead to the account being banned if you are found out.
Are Their Loopholes?
There are plenty of YouTube channels that do—or have in the past—featured under-thirteens. Depending on the situation, there are varying degrees of risk to these potentially grey areas.
The first example we are going to use, and probably the safest in terms of running afoul of YouTube rules on underage YouTubers, is that of Andy Schrock. In this case, the channel is unquestionably Andy’s. The content revolves around him and his business, and there is no ambiguity that the channel belongs to an adult.
However, a good deal of the content on Andy’s channel involves his young children. In this manner, his children—his eldest son in particular—have been able to experience making YouTube videos entirely within the terms of YouTube’s rules on children.
This way of introducing your child to YouTube allows you to fully control your child’s exposure, while also being there with them to guide them as they get to grips with being on-camera.
The Family Model
Our next example is HobbyFamilyTV, formally HobbyKidsTV. The channel has been around for several years now, and features a range of video types involving the “HobbyFamily”, but as you may have guessed from the previous name of the channel, the focus of the videos used to be the children primarily.
In this case, the channel did not belong to the children, but the children nevertheless were the stars of the show.
The method of allowing your children to become YouTubers has the advantage of you being there to essentially chaperone their journey, while still giving them the independence of making their own content.
The Hands-Off Model
Understand that, when we say “hands-off”, we are not talking in a literal sense. If you have a YouTuber child, whether they are old enough to do it alone or not, we recommend maintaining a watchful eye over them, both to protect them from the unpleasantness of the Internet, and prevent them saying or doing things they might later regret.
Our example for this kind of YouTuber is EthanGamer, formally known as EthanGamerTV. Though he is now old enough to have his own YouTube account, Ethan joined YouTube at the astoundingly young age of seven years old. Clearly, that violates YouTube’s current rules on underage accounts.
The way Ethan’s parents handled this was to be hands-on in the management of the channel (along with any other social media) while leaving the actual content of the channel to Ethan. This allowed Ethan to essentially run the channel as though it were his (we can’t say how much editorial control his parents exercised) while technically not violating YouTube’s under-thirteen policy, because it wasn’t his.
Now, we class this one as a bit of a grey area. It clearly worked for Ethan, who is now a very successful YouTuber with over two and a half million subscribers, but YouTube’s rules were not so strict throughout most of his YouTube career. We can’t say with confidence that a similarly run account wouldn’t be shut down today.
Guidance Is Critical
However you choose to approach letting your child become a YouTuber, it is critical that you don’t leave them to do it alone.
The Internet is seemingly filling up with stories of influencers getting “cancelled” after some poorly judged joke or insensitive comment from when they were a lot younger surfaced. Children, by their very nature, are not good judges of things like proprietary.
They are still learning and need guidance as they learn. They should be allowed to make mistakes, but on camera in front potentially millions of people is not the place to make those mistakes.
Like any good parent, you’ll want to be fully informed about letting your child travel down the YouTube path, and that includes knowing how monetisation works for these kinds of channels.
Unless the content being produced by or with your child is being made for adults, it will likely fall afoul of YouTube’s COPPA restrictions. This means several things, among which are disabled comments and no targeted advertisements.
YouTube is not allowed to keep data on children, which means they cannot serve personalised advertisements to them. This, in turn, discourages advertisers from running their ads on these kinds of videos, since they want their ads to be as laser-focused as possible. After all, the more relevant the audience, the better the chance of their ads generating leads.
The restrictions on advertising do not mean your child’s channel cannot be monetised, but the potential revenue that monetisation can generate is significantly reduced when compared to a channel whose content is not aimed at children. There are other options for monetisation, of course, but that is a substantial topic in its own right.
Keeping Your Child Safe
The dangers of the Internet as it pertains to young children is well known, and it is no different for YouTubers. There is also emotional wellbeing to consider, as YouTube is notorious for having many commenters who are not exactly positive and full of praise.
As it turns out, YouTube’s policies do a lot to mitigate this kind of problem by disabling comments on content aimed at children.
However, if your child is on other social media networks, you should consider keeping an eye on the interactions they have through those channels.
Naturally, you’ll want to ensure your child’s safety against online predators, but there are no YouTube-specific measures to take in that regard. All of the good practice and common sense that is recommended for other parts of the Internet apply here.
Is it dangerous to be on YouTube? – Check out my deep dive blog into all the things you need to thing about when becoming a YouTube.
Tip for Starting a YouTube Channel for Your Child
If you decide to let your child start their own YouTube channel, either with a full account as they are over thirteen, or using one of the methods mentioned above for under-thirteens, we have some tips for getting started.
Try getting them some kid friendly equipment to get them started – I have a list of all the equipment and software I use to run my youtube channel on my resources page.
Well, not actual pilot episodes.
We assume you’re not trying to get picked up by a TV network here.
But don’t feel like anything you film has to be put online.
Watch your content back as objectively as you can before it ever sees a YouTube upload box. Get close friends and family to cast their opinions on it. If you’re not happy, go again and try to fix the things that weren’t working.
If your child is going solo, insist they do the same.
Many people have had to learn to live with the stuff they put on the Internet when they were younger without fully understanding the implications; you don’t want your child to be one of them.
Talk About It
Perhaps one of the best things you can do if you intend to let your child use the Internet in any form, especially as a YouTuber, is to have a conversation with them about the risks and dangers of being online.
If your child is not yet at a point where they can grasp the things you need to talk about, it may be a sign that they are not yet ready for this kind of step.
Create a Plan
Things invariably go more smoothly when there is a plan guiding the process, and there’s no reason to think things work any differently when creating a YouTube channel.
If your child wants to do their own thing, have them develop a plan of action first. If they are too young to do it without your help, make the plan with them.
Talk about things like how often videos will be posted, who the intended audience is, what kind of content they plan to make. How will they go about learning the necessary skills to create, edit, and upload content by themselves?
If equipment is a factor, talk about money. Will you be helping them buy the equipment, and are there stipulations? If not, how do they plan to afford what they need?
Having a conversation like this not only ensures your child knows exactly what they are getting into, it also tests how much they really want to do it.
Find Your Balance
One of the hardest things to do as a parent of a YouTuber child—and in parenting in general—is finding the right balance between protecting your child and letting them spread their wings.
As they get older and more comfortable with their life as a YouTuber, you need to find a healthy balance between keeping an eye them as they continue to develop and letting them grow and explore without your presence bearing down on them.
It can be challenging to step back, but your child must gain a sense of independence as they grow, and that applies to YouTube as much as it does to life in general.
And, when they’re old enough to go it alone entirely, you will have prepared them as best you can.