What should you keep in mind when using parental control apps?
Even if you have already had a serious discussion with your kids about responsible online behavior and screen-time limitations, it is still tough to know how they act or what they do every time you’re not around. Parental controls could help you in your goal to keep your children’s online experiences productive, fun, and safe.
Identifying which kind of parental control app or software is best is totally based on your family’s needs. Some parents just need free simple browser settings for filtering inappropriate content, while some need help limiting screen time. Whatever your parental control app needs may be, our guide could help you figure out the wide range of choices to help you manage your children’s smartphones and devices.
Parental Control: What Does It Do?
There are many parental control and monitoring tools readily available to parents. Some are free and already present on your device or computer operating systems or could be downloaded and installed from your internet service provider. There are also mobile apps or software products that you can purchase or subscribe to.
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How to Choose a Parental Control App
The initial thing you should do is to think of what you need for your kids. Do you intend to block inappropriate sites, restrict what applications they could download, protect them from cyberbullying or even bullying others? Some apps would provide you with virtually everything; other apps just give you an overview, and some simply flag what they believe to be concerning or troublesome behavior or content.
Network-level Parental Control Devices
A lot of internet service providers offer parental control features as part of the gateways settings or other devices. Also, there are third-party devices and routers that work with game consoles, smartphones, and computers, and other devices that are hardwired or connected through WiFi to your home network.
Nonetheless, keep in mind that these kinds of parental control apps may not work if your child’s device or has an internet connection that does not need access to the home network. The internet service that you are already using might offer these parental controls, and check with that provider’s website to check if they provide parental controls.
It is not unusual for family members to get access to the same computer or device. A lot of devices, such as Windows PCs, Macs, TV streaming devices, and smartphones, allow you to make two or more accounts so that you could have different device settings for each user. Other parental controls have passwords or security codes that enable adults to bypass controls. Check with your device manufacturer to see what options are offered.
There are applications that you could use to control how long your kids spend on the internet. Some of these apps are conveniently built-into devices, while others are part of apps, services, or games aimed at kids.
These limitations could help you regulate not only how long your child spends using the service or device but the time as well, thus enabling you to set a “bed-time” when the device or smartphone must be shut off.
These parental control tools could be useful, particularly with younger children, but must always be included in a larger discussion regarding the use of social media and smartphones. A lot of parental control apps likewise offer screen time manager among their features.
Although some apps don’t allow parents to monitor their kids’ behavior on the internet stealthily, some parental control apps could run in “secret mode,” and the child might not even be aware that they are in use. However, bear in mind that it is still ideal to discuss with your children about parental controls and why you are using them. Your kids would eventually discover that it is there anyway, and you do not want them to question why you’re spying on them. Thus, it’s better to clear that notion at the very start.
Built-in Parental Control in Apps
There are social media platforms and applications that have their own parental controls built-in, like limiting the kind of content your kids could see or who your kids could interact with. Some of these controls are automatically set depending on your kids’ age, while other apps provide parents the capability to monitor and adjust their children’s experience with that particular service.
It is an excellent idea to check out the service’s settings for your kids’ age group and adjust it if possible or if you see it fit. Because of these limitations and control features, it’s crucial that kids be honest with their age since they might not be available if the service does not know your child’s real age.
TV, Streaming, and Online Video
A lot of streaming devices and services also let parents monitor and control the type of visual content their children could watch. You can check with your streaming devices like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV, together with the services you subscribe to about what parental controls they offer.
Likewise, be aware that online video services such as Youtube have available content that might be inappropriate for your kids. Still, you could block the whole service or just specific types of content, or you could also restrict your children to only kid-friendly streaming services like Amazon Kids, Disney, Youtube Kids, and PBSKids.
One-size absolutely does not fit all when it comes to parenting. A lot of our advice and tips here are for average children, but there are also children whose needs aren’t the same who might need stricter parental controls or monitoring. Just like most parenting decisions, you would need to consider your specific child and their specific needs, along with your own risk tolerance.
Moreover, keep in mind that the only “control” that could fully protect your children for life is not what runs on a device or computer but the one that operates in the system between their ears. Thus, it is of utmost importance to teach your kids critical thinking skills as well as media literacy to help them make good decisions now and as they grow up.
Your child would mature, be independent and perhaps even move to a different city a few years from now, so it’s essential that they develop their own self-control instead of depending on those enforced by their parents or schools.