What are parental controls?

by | Apr 24, 2023

Mom using parental controls with daughters
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Do you worry that your kids spend too much time online? You’re not alone. In fact, 71% of parents of a child under the age of 12 say they’re concerned their child spends too many hours in front of screens. You may also be worried about the type of content they’re consuming. According to McAfee, 59% of kids take action to hide what they’re up to online. For your peace of mind, it might be time to set up parental controls.

What exactly are parental controls?

Before you dive into parental controls, let’s learn more about what they can do for you. Parental controls allow guardians to set limits on their children’s internet use. Controls include content filters (blocking inappropriate content), usage limits (time controls), and monitoring (tracking their activity). With parental controls, you can block sites and filter content you deem inappropriate, monitor your kids’ phone, limit screen time, turn off WiFi, and manage all of your family’s devices on one network.

Many devices and platforms already have some basic controls built in, such as access settings for Android or iPhone and social sites like YouTube. But you can get a higher level of protection from software specifically designed to filter, limit, and track digital activity.

Sisters using iPads side by side

Signs your family might need parental controls

Every family is different. Just because other parents let their kids watch certain shows or stay up late at night on their iPads doesn’t mean that works for your family. If you’re unsure whether parental controls are right for you, here are some signs it might be time.

1. They’ve started letting responsibilities slip

There are plenty of reasons grades can plummet or interests fade. However, if your child is spending more and more time online, you might want to consider software that includes time limits. You can set up devices to turn off at a certain time, such as during homework or at bedtime. Guiding kids to use social media mindfully is half the battle.

2. Their browser history shows risky content

Innocent online searches can lead to not-so-innocent results. And of course, kids often go looking for inappropriate content out of curiosity. Check the browser history regularly. If you see anything questionable, you can use parental controls to automatically filter websites, apps, and web searches to exclude inappropriate material.

3. They won’t hand over their device without a fight

If the phone or iPad has become the center of your child’s world, they could be engaged in inappropriate behavior online, connecting with the wrong friends, or struggling with balance. With proper parental controls, you can block risky content, view daily activity, and set healthy time limits.

4. They aren’t getting enough sleep

We all know how difficult it can be to set your phone down and get a good night’s sleep. Kids are no different. Setting time limits for online access with specific devices is one of the easiest ways to curb these bad habits and help ensure a healthy amount of sleep.

Little girl using an iPad with parental controls

5. They overshare or demand secrecy to go online

Sure, everyone deserves a certain amount of privacy. But if your child is always sneaking away to chat with friends over social media or text, they might benefit from some adjustments. Don’t be shy to browse through your kids’ public social media feeds and pay attention to what kinds of information they’re sharing. After all, their safety is the number one priority.

To learn more about protecting your information from others, check out our article on social media privacy.

6. They make purchases without permission

Many games and apps require additional purchases to level up or to stream the latest movies, TV, and music. To prevent your kids from making purchases that you didn’t approve, you can adjust settings. Apple also lets you disable downloading and deleting apps, so kids have to come to you first before creating a new account.

More ways to practice online safety

There are plenty of ways to practice online safety—both for you and for your kids. If you’re worried about who’s viewing the content that your family posts, consider the pros of a private account. This way, only approved followers will have access to photos of your daughter’s soccer game. And if you’re worried about your kids being bullied online, educate yourself on internet safety tips to prevent cyberbullying. While the internet can be a scary place, especially for kids, there’s a lot you can do to protect them. To learn more, visit the Quantum Fiber Explore blog.

Check out more great articles to boost your web knowledge at Quantum Fiber’s Internet Essentials!

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