There’s Enough to Worry About When Your Kids Go Back To School, Parental Controls Doesn’t Have to be One of Them
It’s back to school time and that means that your kids are probably going to be spending more time online. If you haven’t already, it’s time to start thinking about parental controls. Unlike when you were a kid, hunched over your notebook with three encyclopedias and a dictionary, for better or worse your kids have a wealth of information at their fingertips. You can stop biting your nails and stealthily sneaking behind your kid’s back while they work, we’re here to help.
The good news is pretty much everything comes with parental controls if you know how to use them. Your phone and tablet’s operating systems have parental control options as well as the web browsers on your computer. A quick search will get you individualized instructions for each. Keep in mind that you will get best results if you keep these systems updated. Don’t forget to set up the parental controls for all of your web browsers. It’s easy to forget about Safari if you use Chrome. Keep an eye out for any new browsers that have been mysteriously downloaded onto your computer. Those little ones are tricky.
If you haven’t heard of kid browsers it’s time to get familiar. With kid browsers you can forget about parental controls all together because they offer a prepared and safe browsing experience for little ones. Kid browsers have cool features like taking up the whole screen so kids can’t click out of them and into other apps. They will show only pre-approved websites and some will have image, video and email options, furthering your peace of mind. Kiddle, which is powered by Google is an excellent choice. It looks similar to Google so your kid feels like they’re on the same site you use. If you happen to come across something that you feel is inappropriate there is a site blocking link at the bottom of each page. There are a ton of kid browsers out there with varying features, so you can choose whichever meets the needs of your family.
If you’re looking for next level features like setting limits on screen time, black out time for family dinner and screen time rewards for doing chores, there are plenty of third party options. Unlike the kid browsers, these cost money, but may be worth it depending on your family situation. You can either purchase apps or choose a device that works through your router to filter the content that comes into your house. These are great because they are harder to mess with if you have a tech savvy kid.
While parental controls are awesome, they aren’t a replacement for good old-fashioned parenting. As your kid gets older chances are that Brittany down the street will be texting your kid info on how to bypass the parental controls. If you want them to at least try to adhere to the rules, talk to them about their health and safety. Let them know the reasoning behind the parental controls: why limiting screen time is healthy, how to responsibly use social media, to not post personal information and so much more. Talk to your kids about online predators. Spend time together on the computer and demonstrate responsible use yourself. You can’t enforce limited screen time if you’re picking up your phone or glancing at your Apple watch every five seconds.
Back to school time can bring on a myriad of parental concerns. Parental controls doesn’t have to be one of them. Pick a tool that works best for your family’s needs and talk to your little ones about the limits you’re setting and why. Now that that’s covered you can get back to worrying about what Pinterest-worthy snack you’ll be bringing to the bake sale on Friday.