Monitoring Tools and Parental Controls
By Anne Hart
Keeping our families safe is always our priority whether it is making sure we have a lock on our door or teaching kids how to cross the street. We have to apply the same thought process in the digital world. The amount of information on the internet web can be overwhelming. Where do we start? What information can we rely on? What's the best way to approach keeping my kids safe online?
The answers are here...
Age 12 and Under
iPhone parental controls
Android parental controls
Microsoft family parental controls
YouTube restricted mode
- Create a separate account for each child on the home computer.
- Enable strict content filtering. For example, use parental controls on devices to restrict specific content such as movies, books, and TV shows to only include PG.
- Talk with them about what websites they are allowed to visit.
- Install antivirus software
- Enable YouTube safe mode on all browsers for each child's account.
- Set screen time limits on desktop computers and mobile devices. Your devices' settings most likely already have this feature in settings. Look for "Screen Time" or "Parental Controls" A quick video on how to access those settings and more can be found here.
- Restrict online multi-player gaming unless you or only people you know are playing with your child.
- Use Google SafeSearch.
- If your child has a cell phone, the rules are:
- Open cell phone policy (You, the parent, have access to the phone at any time.)
- Phones should be stored at night
- Use an app like Google Family Link, Apple Families, or Smart Limits from AT&T to monitor usage
Age 13 to 17
- Everything above plus...
- Freeze their social security number. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to learn more.
- List of allowed sites (will most likely expand with age)
- Check browsing history and research 5-10 pages within a website as most "bad" sites hide inappropriate content beyond the home page.
- Know your children's friends on social networks. Delete anyone they do not know in real life. We have a whole other blog post regarding the most popular apps and networks kids are using that you just HAVE to check out.
- Know their passwords, log into their accounts and if applicable, be their "friend" on social media sites.
- Do not allow your children to provide personal information to websites such as first and last name, DOB, address, school name, cell phone, exact physical location, IM and email addresses. An email or DOB may be needed to sign up, it shouldn't be displayed.
- Do not allow your children to post photos that contain personal info such as a photo of their last day of school that shows the name of their school.
- Set up Google Alerts to get notifications that your child has accessed something inappropriate in their browser based on the alert that you customized. Additionally, here are some tools from Apple.
- Remove your family contact info from sites like Spokeo, or other directory type websites.
Your child is on their way to college and starting to live their own life. You will need to continue to support your family values through conversation and action. Ultimately, though, by this age they need the opportunity to be on their own on the Internet, hopefully grounded in the up bringing we've provided. That said, the dialogue continues.
We can be most effective keeping our families safe by having open conversations with our children, providing realistic expectations, being proactive on parental control settings, and holding our kids accountable for their online activities.