How Does YouTube Restricted Mode Work for Schools


As an educator you may have a love/hate relationship with YouTube. There are many reasons to use YouTube in Education. YouTube educational and noneducational videos on YouTube that have child appropriate content.

Unfortunately, there is also a ton of videos on YouTube with inappropriate content. The technical process of separating the appropriate from the inappropriate is a lot more difficult than some may think.

YouTube allows districts to combat this issue on Chromebooks by enabling YouTube Restricted Mode using the Google Admin Console. The blocking of videos is automatically done by Google. However, teachers can be allowed to make exceptions for YouTube videos and channels for students.

YouTube Restricted Mode Explained

With YouTube restricted mode enabled, three main things change for students when using YouTube on Chromebooks.

  • When searching for videos, restricted videos no longer show up in the search
  • Comments for videos are no longer shown
  • When trying to play a restricted video by using a link, the student will see this screen.

These three changes are true regardless of whether the Chromebook is being used at school, at McDonalds, or on a home WiFi network.

Now, as I said in the beginning, teachers can override a YouTube video block. They can allow a specific video or an entire YouTube Channel. Both are really easy to do.

When a teacher approves a video it is allowed for all students.

How To Unblock YouTube Videos for Students

Follow the steps below to approve a YouTube video for students.

  1. Open www.youtube.com
  2. Sign in with your school Google account (if not already.) You can do so by clicking on Sign In in the top right corner. If you are signed in, you will see your account profile image in the top right of the screen.
  3. Search for the video you want to allow.
  4. Under the video there will be a blue bar that either says this video is approved or there will be an Approve button.


    Once approved the video will be available for all students. Teachers can approve videos while working from anywhere, not just at school.

If you approve a video by mistake or decide later that the video should not be approved, you can click the Remove button

Videos will be available for students signed into Chromebooks or signed in the Windows Chrome browser. Videos may still be blocked by a Internet filter for students using other browsers on Windows PC or if they have not signed into Chrome.

Unblock an Entire YouTube Channel for Students

In some cases it makes sense to approve an entire channel rather than an individual video. This could be your own YouTube Channel.

For example, let’s say you were watching the Official Trailer | KINGDOMS OF THE SKY video from PBS and you want to allow all videos on the PBS Channel.

  1. Under the video player you will see the account image for the Channel that provided the video.
  2. Click on it.
  3. This will take you to the Channel’s page
  4. Click Approve in the blue bar

YouTube Approve Video Option is Missing

If you district has enabled YouTube Restricted Mode, there are two common reasons why you may not see the Blue Bar for approving a video under a video.

  1. Your Google Domain Admin has not given you rights to approve videos. To resolve this, share the directions farther down in this post on how to enable teachers to approve videos.
  2. You are not viewing YouTube using your primary YouTube profile. Though YouTube does not currently allow EDU users to created Branded Accounts, you may have setup one previously that you still have access to.

If you are viewing YouTube using a Branded Channel, you won’t see the blue bar. To see the approve video option, swap to your primary channel.

How To Enable YouTube Restricted Mode in the Google Admin Console

This section is for Google domain admins.

  1. Open the Google Admin Console
  2. Click Apps
Google Admin Console Apps
  1. Click Additional Google Services
Additional Google Services
  1. Scroll down and click on YouTube. It is likely on page 2.
Additional Google Services YouTube
  1. Click Content Settings
  2. Click Setup
  3. Check the box next to Signed in users in your organization can only watch restricted and approved videos
  1. Click Save

YouTube Restricted Mode Levels Review

Strict Restricted YouTube access

This is the highest level of restriction. Not all YouTube videos are blocked with this level. Instead, Google uses its own filtering criteria to block videos. These videos will not show up in YouTube search either.

Staff who have the rights to approve videos can still approve a video that is blocked. The approved video will then be accessible to any user in your domain who has access to YouTube.

Moderate Restricted YouTube access

As you would expect, this access level is less strict. There is not a list of categories available to give better distinction between the two.

From my own testing I’ve noticed that many music videos are allowed with the Moderate option. As with Strict, those who have rights to approve videos, can allow a Moderate block.

How To Setup YouTube Restricted Mode by Organizational Unit

Now that you have turned on YouTube Restricted Mode, you need to decided whether to use Moderate or Strict access levels. You can set different levels by Organizational Unit or by group.

  1. Go back to the same Content Settings page where you checked the box
  2. Now click on Youtube Permission Settings
  1. On the left side of the screen you can choose which OU you want to set permissions

Allow Teachers to Approve YouTube Videos

Allowing teachers to approve videos allows them to make sure their students can see the videos in the lessons.

  1. Use the instructions above to return to the YouTube Permissions screen.
  2. Select the OU you want to grant the ability to approve videos. In the example below the OU is called Staff
  1. Click on the Can approve videos option
  2. Click Save

View YouTube Restricted Mode Whitelist

Have a questionable video or channel approved? As a Google Domain Admin you can see what channels and videos have been approved as well as when and by who.

When signed into the Admin Console you can access the list at https://admin.google.com/ytapprovals/whitelist. Users who are not admins will get a 404 error when trying to access this list.

You can remove a video or channel by clicking the X in the video list. Teachers can remove a video they approved using the same blue bar in YouTube.

The list is in descending chronological order from the date approved. Approved channels are listed before individual videos. So, keep scrolling!

Dave Carty

K12 district technology administrator, Google domain admin, Certified Google Trainer.

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