Whether we want to admit it or not, we have all increased our technology time. Staying connected to school, friends, and sports teams helps our children to cope with our new normal. It also presents a new set of challenges for parents. How do we find balance maximizing all the benefits technology has to offer, while minimizing the potential risks?
Even if we have talked to our kids about screen time limitations and responsible online behavior, it is tough to manage what they are doing. Parental controls can support efforts to keep your child’s online experiences safe, fun, and productive.
Built-in Parental Control Features:
There are several ways for setting parental controls with built-in features for smartphones or tablets. Apple, Android and Microsoft all provide their own native parental controls with a range of features. With these controls it is possible to monitor, preventt, restrict, or block app downloads, purchasing of music, apps or in-app purchases, location services and inappropriate content from the web.
Parental Control Apps:
There are both free and premium parental control apps available. These apps will essentially allow parents to closely monitor and manage how their child is using their device. These apps can manage and monitor who your child calls/texts, websites and content they can access, which apps they can use and for how long, set screen time limits and view reports on how they have spent their time on their devices. FamilyTime is an app on Android and iOS that does everything, allowing you to customize precisely what content your kids should have access to, set time limits, track location, and more.
Computers and Laptops
Similar to those mentioned above computers and laptops offer similar parental controls. Windows for PC as well as OSX for Mac involve creating your child an account and setting up various restrictions. For more advanced controls there are apps that are easy to use and customizable. These apps can provide a wider range of options for limiting and managing the use of your child’s desktop or laptop. Qustodio is a full suite of parental control tools to keep your children safe online. Most parental control software is aimed at Windows users, but Qustodio is also available for Mac, Android, iOS, Kindle and Nook.
All the major gaming consoles offer parental controls of some sort. These controls allow you to monitor and limit the time spent on games, prevent age restricted games and restrict or prevent in-game communication.
If you want a little more control, you can set up an account with OpenDNS and block adult content as well as things like malware and piracy sites. This option means setting up a free account and a few extra configuration steps. With OpenDNS you get a lot of control over which sites are blocked and which are allowed.
Parental controls are a valuable tool to keep children safe while spending time online. As technology continues to advance, it is important to understand the features and resources available to keep our kids safe.