How to block YouTube in the home network (Phones, Tablets, Computers)
I am so tired by some types of the YouTube videos my kids are watching all day. I decided to restrict YouTube videos based on Keywords in my home network. I thought it should be really easy. What a big mistake. It turns out to be a serious challenge and me end up blocking YouTube altogether (kicking out my own access as well). In my journey to my goal, I learned a lot and decided to put it out to help others who may also be looking for the solution like me. This article is divided into several sections to help you understand the reasons for specific questions. Stay tuned and keep reading!
Fact: After a lot of struggle, I came to the conclusion that there is no way we can block YouTube videos using keywords. For example, if you want to block all YouTube videos that have Pippa-pig in the title, there is a no way to do that.
Therefore, we can either block YouTube or not. You cannot block it selectively. Of course, a specific video URL can be blocked but not based on keywords. I really wanted to block all the video that has Peppa-Pig in the title, but there is a no way.
Why can you not block YouTube straight from the router settings?
I have really powerful ASUS router with Firewall. However, simply using Router firewall will not block YouTube because, (1) YouTube uses HTTPS- router firewall cannot block HTTPS, and (2) IP address blocking is not working because YouTube uses a lot of different IP addresses.
Other methods that can work but not preferred
Computer-based Firewall software (often included in antivirus package) may block YouTube, but it will only protect the specific device and an advanced user may be able to manipulate. Router based method is preferred as it will protect all the connected devices and no one can manipulate it.
There may also be other methods that I have not explored or not familiar with, but it will not be as simple as the method I used and may need a tech-savvy brain to implement.
Devices that I have blocked YouTube access in the home network using this method
All devices that are connected to the home network (Phone, Tablet, Computers) will be blocked from accessing/playing YouTube videos (Blocked both, Web access and the YouTube App access). Blocking YouTube on Computer may be a little easy, but Phone and Table was a challenge as they use YouTube App instead of the website.
Cost and Time
$0 in fees (Because OpenDNS is free for home users)
Maybe 30-45 minutes of your time
Best of all, you do not need to install anything on any device
How to block YouTube in the home network?
Note: This is not an OpenDNS tutorial so if you feel that, I apologize for my writing style. However, I assure you that you would achieve your goal at the end. Also, I have no affiliation with OpenDNS. This is the best method that worked for me and I am sharing my experience here.
Step 1. Setting up OpenDNS in the router
- Go here (OpenDNS website) and Signup and create an account with OpenDNS (It is free for home use)
- Login to your WiFi router control panel. You can get your router specific setting instruction here (It is very helpful guide provided by OpenDNS community)
- Setup your Router to use OpenDNS as instructed
- Verify that you are using OpenDNS by clicking here
- At this point, I assume that you are already familiar with OpenDNS Dashboard settings and your router is already using OpenDNS. You already have your home network setup in the OpenDNS dashboard
Step 2. Block YouTube Website access (Mobile device App will be blocked next in the Step-3)
- Go to your dashboard settings, click on “Web Content Filtering” option and choose "Custom"
- On the same screen, there is another section called, “Manage Individual Domains”. In this section, you can add select domain (websites) to the list of “Always block” or “Never block”
- Select “Always block” and type in the following domain
- Click "Add domain" to finalize the change
- Click “Apply” to make all the changes final
- At this point, you have successfully blocked YouTube Web access on all your devices. This works effectively on the computer because we are always using YouTube website on the computer. However, this will not work on the devices (Android and iOS) that use YouTube App to access YouTube. Kids in the home mostly use these devices so we have to block the YouTube App or uninstall the App. However, I do want YouTube App to work on my device when I am not connected to home network or when I am on the road
Step 3. Block YouTube App access (Android and iOS)
- Go back to the “Managed Individual Domains” section in the Web Content Filtering tab
- In the “Always block” list, add following domains, one-by-one
- Click “Apply” to make all the changes final. Allow ~3 minutes to implement this changes in your OpenDNS.
This will block all the seven domain on the network. Since YouTube App uses different domains, all this domains needs to be blocked. The list may change in the future if YouTube starts using different/ additional domains as well (If they get scared with this tutorial :-) ).
In case (in the future), after following this tutorial, you are still unable to block YouTube, you would need to add that new/ missing YouTube domain on the list here (You may need to search it on your own using either Google or by some complicated technical ways).
Please note that on mobile devices, YouTube App will appear to work normally and it will play those YouTube Ads, but it will not load/play the Video anymore as we have blocked YouTube's hidden domains!
In your mobile devices, make sure to clean YouTube App data and catch data. Otherwise, some of the videos that your kid is playing over and over may still appear to play in your phone because it has been stored in catch memory of the App.
Feel free to comment. I appreciate if you share any tricks/ have any updates/ would like to add to the information in this article to improve it further and help others.