A Guide to Parental Controls for Your Child’s Digital Devices
Your child greatly benefits from the use of digital devices. Devices and their apps can support your child’s learning, create channels for parent-child communication and also entertain your kids. However, digital tools also grant your kids access to apps and content that can lead to serious repercussions. If you don’t want your kid to make accidental purchases or be exposed to inappropriate content, you should take the time to set up parental controls. Every device has a different process for setting up kid-friendly settings and there are apps that offer nuanced services for controlling the content available to your child. Here are some ways you can set up parental controls on your family’s digital devices:
For your devices that use the iOS interface, like your iPhone 8 and iPad, you should reconfigure their settings. First, go into your device’s “Settings,” then turn on “Restrictions.” The device will prompt you to enable restrictions on certain apps and create a passcode that will turn them on or off. If you want to restrict the kinds of content that your child can see, you can create a ratings filter for music, movies, TV shows, books, apps and websites. If your child has cracked your restrictions password, or if you forgot it, you will need to erase your device and set it up as a new device.
Android users can set up a “kid account” on the 7.1 Nougat operating system. The interfaces vary on each phone or tablet, but the process is generally the same. Find the “Settings” cog on your device and scroll down until you see “Users.” In “Users” you’ll see the main account of the owner and there will be an option to “Add user.” The device will log you out of the main account and ask you to sign into the new user’s account, from which you’ll make the settings. Hit “Skip Setup,” if you don’t want your kid’s user-account to allow the downloading of games, apps or Google Play media content. If you allow your child access to Google Play, make sure you activate the parental control settings. You should create settings for every kind of media, aligning the content rating with your child’s age. Make sure your child can’t accidentally purchase content by setting up a download PIN.
If your family uses Amazon Fire, you can also create separate accounts for the main user (yourself) and your child. Open the settings, select “Profiles & Family Library,” then click on “Add Child Profile.” FreeTime is built into every Fire device, which restricts purchases, bans ads and only allows kid-friendly content. FreeTime is appropriate for kids eight and under, as it may be too restrictive for older children.
There are apps specifically designed for device monitoring, that allow parents to create nuanced settings that best suit their child. FamilyTime is an app that helps you be a responsible, digital parent who is aware of your child’s digital activities. The app will let you create time limits for your child’s phone/tablet use, which will ensure that they won’t have any distractions during homework time or bedtime. The app will also keep stats on your child’s recent phone calls, app usage, text messages and the contacts they add to their device. Not only can you monitor your child’s phone use, but the app also helps you monitor your child’s physical location. This feature is especially helpful for parents who have older kids that have more freedom to roam, as it will let you know their current location and location history. The app is available for both Android and iPhone devices. Other top, parental control apps include Norton Family Parental Control, Net Nanny and Qustodio Parental Control.