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YouTube Adding Parental Controls

YouTube has coming under fire from parents who think some of the content on the popular Web site is unsuitable for their kids.

So, CBS News correspondent Kelly Wallace reports exclusively, starting today, YouTube is adding parental controls, enabling parents to block kids from viewing many videos.

Type in the word sex on YouTube, and you'll get millions of hits, Wallace points out, including countless provocative and violent videos.

That concerns parents such as Marsali Hancock, whose 14-year-old daughter, Rachel Hancock, spends at least two hours a day -- sometimes as many as five -- on YouTube.

"What I don't want coming into my home is the sexual content and the violence; those two are really -- they're just unhealthy."

Marsali, the president of Internet safety advocacy group iKeepSafe.org, was one of several parents who started complaining to YouTube nearly two years ago, urging the company to do more to keep teens from seeing sexually explicit, violent and other dangerous content, such as a video promoting anorexia, while still enabling them to enjoy the site.


See Natalie discussing the new YouTube policy and other hot tech news on her daily CNET show, "Unplugged"


"It's very frustrating," Marsali observes. "It's either all of YouTube or none of YouTube. You either take the whole world and say, 'It's OK,' or you say, 'No, I'm sorry, you are not going to be on at all.' "

But now, says Wallace, in response to those consumer concerns, YouTube is enabling parents to block videos flagged as inappropriate for young teens.

Still, with millions of videos on YouTube, the filtering will be a challenge, admits Scott Rubin, who heads child safety policy for YouTube. "It's a formidable job," Rubin says. "With 20 hours of video uploaded every minute to YouTube, we really count on our community members … to know our community guidelines, those rules of the road, to flag videos they think violate the rules."

Rachel is somewhat relieved that the new controls don't go further, saying, "If YouTube was totally blocked, it'd be the same as blocking out the world, because you can find bad stuff at the library, you can find bad stuff at school; I mean, it's not limited to YouTube."

How do the controls work?

CNET Senior Editor and "Early Show" contributor Natalie Del Conte offered some pointers Wednesday.

She explained that the Safety Mode is a new mode of browsing that prevents children from viewing objectionable content. It does three things: limits content on videos containing nudity, pornography, narcotics, graphic violence, and news events containing graphic violence; collapses all comments on videos automatically (you can choose to view comments, but comments with profanity will be filtered out); locks Safety Mode for all users, even if a user is logged out, so kids can't turn off Safety Mode if they try to.

Safety Mode is browser-specific, so you would have to turn it on for every browser that's on a given computer, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, etc.

Safety Mode is also account-specific, so if you have different accounts on a computer, you have to turn on Safety Mode for all the accounts you want to filter. That way, you can filter out the accounts of your kids, but not your husband or wife.

Safety Mode doesn't work if you're in private browsing mode. Private browsing mode is a way to surf the Internet without leaving a trail of the sites you visit or the passwords you use. It clears all cookies, so there's no trail. A good parenting tip may be to not allow private browsing in your home, so your kids aren't engaging in secretive activity online.

A good rule of thumb for teaching your children about online behavior is that, when online, you're in public. There are things that aren't appropriate to engage in, and there are people who will try to engage you. We should behave the same way online as we do offline.

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