Being able to protect children online is now an important aspect of parenting. Children now are becoming smarter as the technology gets more advanced. It is not unusual to find a child as young as 2 years old knowing how to operate a cellphone. Research surrounding children’s use of technology has shown that kids exposed to computers early in their lives grow up to be more confident than those that use technology at an older age. Children can use computers and the Internet for entertainment, education, and socializing with others.
When the pandemic hit everyone saw how important exposing kids to computers and the Internet is. We all remember in 2020 when schools moved to online learning. Transitioning was easy for kids who were already used to the use of technology in their daily lives. Now in as much as technology is good for our kids, it also brings about lots of challenges. These include children’s safety and social wellbeing. Technology can also mess with your parenting and discipline strategies you had set for your kids. We need to protect children online and monitor how they use technology. It’s not a crime to supervise, manage and protect your child’s use of technology. There is no invasion of privacy here because they are still minors in our care. Here are ways you can manage and supervise your child’s technology use.
Use Apps to monitor and manage activities.
Keeping up with what your kids are up so as to protect children online requires a lot of effort. With your packed daily to-do list it’s easier to forget about monitoring your kids. Instead you might end up using computers or games to keep them busy while you are doing something. There are a lot of different apps you can use to help you manage your kid’s online activities. The good thing about using Apps is that you don’t have to dedicate lots of time everyday. Sometimes just inputting your required settings once will be enough. The App will do the rest.
This is a parental control app that you can use to supervise and protect children online. It’s free but some advanced features are only available if you opt for the yearly subscription based Pro Version. The App has powerful monitoring tools and parental controls. Qustodio has tools that are designed to help you monitor your child’s screen time, content they are absorbing and websites they are visiting. I decided to install the Qustodio Parental control app because I was tired of my son downloading apps and games that were not appropriate for his age. Having the app has saved me so much time going through his tablet deleting apps and hiding some apps on his tablet.
You can easily set your child’s overall screen time or you can go further to set specific time they are allowed to spend on a specific game or app. As soon as the screen time allowed is reached your child will no longer have access to the apps. The app also helps you to filter the content your child can access. You can easily block the apps or websites you don’t want your kids to have access to. What I like about the Qustodio App is that all the monitoring can be done from your device. All you need to do is install the Qustodio kids app on your child’s device and installing the Qustodio Parental App on your device.
Important features on the Qustodio App
Some of the features you can find on the app are blocking pornography and any other inappropriate content even when browsing is done in private mode. You can monitor the time your kids spend on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Instagram etc. If you are interested in monitoring what your child searches and watches on Youtube you can do that as well. However Youtube monitoring is only available on Windows, Android and Mac devices for now. On Android devices the parent is able to track a child’s calls and text messages.
The App also comes with a map locator that helps you know where your child is at or where they have been during the day. One of the cool features I like about the Qustodio App is that you can add a panic button to your child’s device which can send you an alert with location details if your child ever gets into trouble. The relevance of these features depends on your child’s age and Internet activity. The best part is that a child will never be able to uninstall or delete the Qustodio App on their device as it’s password protected.
Google Family Link
This works just like the Qustodio App to protect children online. You can easily set your child’s screen time limits as well as manage their apps all on your device. The Family link App is free and was developed by Google. If your kids are under the age of 13, you can use the app to create a google account specifically meant for your child. This was a huge plus for me because it helped me to clean up my google account which was now filled with kids related apps and games. If your kids have their own Google account through the Family link it also means that they only get to use YouTube for kids on their device. This is a feature I appreciate about the Google Family Link App because my son is only 4 years old and I wouldn’t want him to watch adult content with inappropriate language for his age.
Google family APP features
The app helps you to view your child’s app activity. You can get daily, weekly or monthly reports. Each time your child downloads an App you will receive a notification. This is handy because you can then approve the app or block it. Once blocked your child can never install the app again on their device until you unblock it. You can also manage the apps your kids purchase from the Google Play store. They can never make any app related purchases without your permission. This has saved me lots of money.
Besides setting screen time limits, the app lets you remotely lock your kid’s device when you want them to take a break. However the only thing I don’t like about the Google Family App is that kids can still download new apps without your permission. This is the reason why I ended up subscribing to the Qustodio Parental App. My son downloaded more than 10 apps per day therefore it became a chore going through his app library deciding what to keep or block each day.
Talk to your kids
Having Apps to help you monitor your kids is very handy. However it is also important to sit down and talk with the kids about how they use technology. Have a conversation with your child about the Pros and Cons of the Internet. Give them warnings and tools to help them spot and deal with bad people on the Internet. Have a talk and set rules about using social media. Come up with the rules together with the kids, that way it’s easier for them to want to follow. It’s important for you to let your children know that they can come to you if ever they need technology related help.
Teach your children how to safely use technology
In as much as we can block different apps and websites we don’t our kids to visit. Teaching them how to use technology is helpful in building responsible behavior online. It is imperative that we teach children about Internet laws so that they know what’s acceptable and not online. Teach them about the dangers of sharing private information such as passwords, home address, phone number,or their exact location with strangers. It’s also important to teach them about online bullying and that they shouldn’t bully others and if they feel like they are being bullied then they should tell you. As a responsible parent, never ignore your child when they tell you about uncomfortable online exchanges they had. Follow up and show your children that they can count on you to protect them.
It is your responsibility as the parent to actively take part in your children’s online activities. This helps you to stay on top of what they are doing and make sure they benefit from technology without being exposed to the potential dangers. If you have any tips you have found useful please feel free to share with us.