Every year it seems that children are accessing the internet at a younger age. The debate will never end about how much internet access children and teens should be allowed, but you can help to manage your kids’ internet usage. One of the most obvious ways to protect your children is often already built into their devices in parental controls. Learning how to use them can help you to rest (a little) easier about your child’s exposure to the online world.
Setting Up Parental Controls: Most devices (laptops, cell phones, tablets) have Parental Control settings that can be found easily by performing a search for “Parental Controls”. Settings may differ from device to device, but most devices allow you to limit the use of the device, block purchases, or restrict access to certain websites or apps. Take the time to learn and set up Parental Controls before giving your child any device.
Parental Control Apps: You can download apps to help you monitor your kids’ usage, control what sites and apps they visit and keep track of where your child is using the device. The top 5 Parental Control apps include:
Norton Family (https://us.norton.com/store)
ESET Parental Control (https://www.eset.com/us/home/parental-control-android/)
Kids Mode: Many devices offer a Kids Mode, which can be very useful for parents with very young children. Kids Mode allows you to quickly switch back and forth from the full access you used when using your phone to Kids Mode before handing off your phone to your 5-year-old so that they can play a game. We all know how convenient it can be to watch an Elmo video with your toddler when you’re stuck waiting. Kids Mode allows you to let your child enjoy some screen time without allowing accidental access to your emails or the internet.
Limit Screen Times: Check your devices for built-in apps that limit screen time, or download an app that allows you to set screen time limits. If you want to block a specific app, you can set the screen time setting for that app to “0”, which can be especially useful if an app cannot be deleted. These settings can also allow you to manage how the screen time is used by allowing some apps to be used more than others. You can also use apps that will track how your child is using screen time, helping you to monitor and manage how your child uses the internet.
Use a Wifi Curfew: One of the most effective ways to limit the use of Wifi in your home is to set a “bedtime” or a “curfew” on your router. You can easily access the settings on your router to schedule Wifi availability to shut down the Wifi network completely and come back on automatically based on the times you have set. You won’t be able to access your Wifi network during these times, so you may want to keep a laptop connected to your router during the off period.