How to Protect Your Child's Mobile Device Usage
For most parents, providing their child with a smartphone has numerous benefits. There’s a certain peace that comes with being able to communicate with your child whenever and wherever.
Kids can also entertain themselves with a smartphone and even learn with it. But as a parent, it’s impossible to stop worrying about your child. You may begin to ask, “how safe is my child on the internet?”
Adult content, cyberbullying, and getting in contact with strangers, are just some risks of a child using a smartphone.
If you want to stay on top and protect your child’s mobile device and internet use, then try the tips below.
5 Tips for Protecting Your Child’s Mobile Device
When people hear you talk about protecting your child’s mobile device, their imagination runs wild. They picture you going all big brother on your kids. But it can be so much simpler.
Here are five tips for protecting your child’s smartphone and teaching them the importance of safe internet use.
- Create a channel for communication.
- Set boundaries and stick to them.
- Wait until they’re old enough.
- Teach them how to protect sensitive information.
- Use parental control apps.
Create a channel for communication.
The truth is, the first and often the most important step to keeping your child safe on the internet is open communication. Children will rebel; it’s what they do. If you try to enforce disciplinary measures, most kids will do all they can to bypass it.
Instead, communicate the reason why you want to take those measures. Let them understand that the internet can be a wonderful place, but it can also be dangerous.
Spend time with them and show an interest in how they spend time on the internet. Learn the latest TikTok dances, and in between, talk to them about digital safety. Don’t just hand them a phone as a distraction while you work on other things.
Set boundaries and stick to them.
It’s important to set boundaries, especially with children. Boundaries are the limits and rules we identify for our children. It helps to keep them safe, and it teaches them how to navigate in the outside world.
Setting boundaries is more than just saying “no.” It’s all about establishing activities and behaviors that are acceptable and identifying those that are not.
You can also have a list of pre-approved apps, websites, and other resources that they can access whenever they want.
You’re probably asking yourself, “Isn’t this too much?”
But remind yourself why you’re doing this. You want to keep your children safe. As they grow older and have learned to use the internet safely, you can remove some limits.
You may get some pushback at first, but if you stick to your decision, they’ll realize you are serious. The earlier you start introducing them to these boundaries, the better.
Wait until they’re old enough.
The internet can seem like such a convenience, especially in entertaining your kid. You can go to YouTube, start playing baby shark, and your little one will go crazy with joy. While it’s okay for your kid to occasionally watch some toons with your phone, it should not be a regular occurrence. Even more importantly, they should not have their own mobile device until they’re old enough.
According to child experts, kids younger than six years should not have their smartphones.
Teach them how to protect sensitive information.
Teaching your children how to protect their identity online from an early age is another way of protecting your child’s internet activity. Let them know that personal and family information should never be shared with anyone or any app. Inform them about the risks that come with revealing too much about yourself on the internet.
Let them know that you’ll also have access to their social media accounts until they are no longer minors. You’re not there to monitor what they do or embarrass them in any way. You only have access to help ward off predators and attacks.
Use parental control apps.
At a certain age, your kids’ curiosity may get the better of them. They will want to explore all that the internet offers, including websites that they have no business being on.
In such cases, the best thing you can do is install a parental control app on their device and limit what they have access to. Make sure you inform them before carrying out this installation. You should also explain why you’re doing this and let them understand that it is for their safety.
Why Is It Important to Protect Your Child’s Mobile Device?
So, why should you care about protecting your child’s mobile device? Isn’t it enough to protect them in the real world? Why should you monitor their internet use?
Some people are against protecting a child’s phone. They believe it is a form of censorship. Is there some truth to that? Sure, especially if the protective measures are excessive.
But keeping your children safe should always be a priority, and if monitoring their internet use is what is needed, then do it. The internet makes you accessible to everyone and anyone, and this can be a double-edged sword.
Do you teach your kids not to talk to strangers? Then it makes sense to offer the same caution with their mobile devices. After all, the internet is essentially a world filled with strangers.
Some parents still think a smartphone is just another gadget, and it can’t do any damage. When in reality, your child’s mobile device is like a portal gun to a whole new world. Did you know that 40% of children chat with strangers online?
The internet can also be an escape for many kids, especially those with parents going through a divorce. These kids look for entertainment, interaction, and solace on the internet.
If you have information on what your child is exposed to on the internet, you can monitor how they’re doing mentally. You can also take precautions that’ll give them a safer online experience.
The Effects of Divorce on Child’s Internet Use
Kids thrive on quality time. They love it when you spend time with them, and unfortunately, divorce means you won’t be with your child all the time.
With divorce comes various emotions, often negative, that they struggle to handle. So, they turn to the internet as an outlet for their emotions.
The internet is always available. It makes them feel like they have control. It is something that will never leave them, unlike a parent.
There’s nothing wrong with using the internet as an outlet. The problem is that these kids start to rely on the internet too much, which can easily turn into an addiction.
This addiction can lead to several conditions, including anxiety, insomnia, depression, irritability, anger issues, etc.
4 Best Parental Control Apps
Here are five parental control apps that can help you monitor what your kid is accessing on the internet.
Google Family Link
First on the link is Google Family Link. It is a free app that lets you see everything your kid is up to. You can see their phone usage, the apps they use, and their location. You can even lock them out of their phone if you want them to take some time off from their phone screen. Google Family Link is available on android and iPhones running iOS 11 and higher.
Bark is a super affordable parental control app that does just about everything. There’s a free trial version, but it costs just $5/month to access all its features.
Bark lets you monitor text messages, YouTube videos, the images/photos they post, and lots more. It also informs you if they download a new app or try to sign in to their social media account from a different device.
The app also checks their posts for certain keywords and alerts you if it believes your child is being bullied, suicidal, or being assaulted in any way. You can also use it to monitor screen activity and screen time.
Bark is available on all devices, including iOS, Android, PCs, mac, kindle, iPads, and Chromebook.
Qustudio gives you access to several control tools that work on different devices and operating systems. You can select what you want to block and what can be accessed.
It also lets you block specific apps and games. You can even block specific contacts and prevent them from calling or messaging your child.
You can also view and read their text messages and see what they’re doing on social media. One great feature of Qustudio is the panic button. The panic button sends a short text from your child’s phone to your phone. This feature is great, especially if you have teenagers. If they find themselves in a dangerous situation or are stuck somewhere, they can hit the panic button, and you can go pick them up.
If you’re looking for an app that’ll give you a great web-filtering option, then go for Net Nanny. With Net Nanny, you can track your child’s location, see their location history, and set time allowances. You can also screen the content they can access on social media. That way, you don’t have to block them off social media completely.
The only thing Net Nanny doesn’t offer is text messages and call monitoring.
Children learn from their environment. If you want them to learn about the importance of internet safety, then you need to show them that you’re also practicing safe internet use.
Whether you want to rely on slowly teaching them to be safe on the internet or using parental control apps, the simple truth is that as a parent, you need to be aware of the risks smartphones pose to your child(ren). You also need to be in a position to protect them from these risks.
With kids, it is often smarter to be proactive than reactive. So start taking measures to protect your child’s mobile device today.
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For more information about keeping your kids safe online, read the following article that focuses on protecting your children on YouTube: