In today’s day and age technology is ever-present in our children’s lives. It’s in our family rooms, in the classrooms, and quite likely already in our kids’ pockets. While schools are assigning homework via text message and handing out iPads instead of textbooks, the question of whether technology will exist in your child’s life is pointless. Rather, it’s a matter of controlling and monitoring its presence. With the right safety measures, including effective parental controls, your child can enjoy and explore the world of technology in a healthy, productive way.
1. Limit screen time and be mindful of applications
According to Happy You Happy Family the first step in parentally controlling your child’s devices isn’t a software or application that allows you to track what they’re doing or block suspicious sites; the first step is actually setting boundaries and limiting your child’s time before they’ve even set their eyes on the screen. The article explores methods on limiting screen time, and walks parents through a dialogue they can have with their kids which explains how to mindfully use electronic devices. The dialogue, which uses a “junk food” and “brain food” analogy, is easy to understand even for young children, and will likely help them understand exactly why limiting screen time is essential for their health.
2. Download a parental control software
Especially as kids get older, we can’t always be over their shoulder telling them what’s healthy or unhealthy. While computer softwares can’t possibly substitute for parental guidance, they can help you safeguard your child’s device and keep tabs on what kind of content is reaching their eyes. With hundreds of options for parental control softwares, it can be overwhelming to find one that fits. Thankfully, Techradar has whipped up this ultra-handy article containing the top ten free control softwares of 2018. They include content blockers, keyloggers, and other monitoring tools. Browse through the list and select one that’s the best fit for you and your child.
3. Install parental control applications on their cell phone
While parental control softwares for computers can be helpful and even necessary in protecting your child from the danger’s of the web, another gateway for harm is right in their pocket: most kids today have cell phones that leave a world of information (and unfortunately also a world of danger) at their fingertips. For this, Working Mother recommends installing a parental control application on your kids handheld device. The article gives a breakdown of five different options and what exactly they include. With features like GPS location, application time limits, and search history reports, it’s easy to gain a little peace of mind.
4. Remove devices from bedrooms
Among nine other wonderful suggestions, Amy Morin at VeryWell family insists that one of the best ways to monitor your child’s devices and also teach them healthy screen time habits is to remove electronic devices from the bedroom. This includes televisions, video game systems, and other electronics. Besides the fact that you cannot effectively monitor what they're being exposed to behind closed doors, these devices are also likely to interfere with healthy sleeping habits.
5. Have open conversations with your child about device safety and internet dangers
The truth is that computer softwares and protection applications can only go so far. Your child needs to know how to navigate the web in a safe and secure manner, and the best way to start teaching them is to have open and honest conversations. This article from The Guardian suggests several ways to talk to your child about internet safety, and reveals what methods security experts use to keep their children secure. After all, no matter how many safety controls you place on your child’s devices or what kind of screen time limits you enforce, your kid will eventually be an adult who will need to navigate the dangers of the internet on their own. So talk to your child about device safety early and often.
The presence of devices like cell phones, iPads and laptop computers in your child’s life isn’t an innately bad one! In fact, these technologies can (and are) used to expedite learning processes and keep families in touch. All you have to do is help your child make smart decisions. So be aware of what they’re being exposed to, implement safety softwares if necessary, and always have open conversations with them about internet and device safety. The internet can be a engaging and educational space if you just show your child how to safely explore it.