Parental Control Software
The recent Tik Tok controversy is another in a long line of online incidents that highlight the need to ensure children’s online activities are appropriately monitored.
The recent Tik Tok controversy is another in a long line of online incidents that highlight the need to ensure children’s online activities are appropriately monitored. There are a number of tools available to help monitor and restrict what children can see online but before we look at the technology available in this space it’s important to acknowledge a few key points:
- The software is only a tool to help manage children’s online viewing and as such requires monitoring and management to ensure it works effectively.
- It is still very important to have open and honest conversations with your children about online safety and ensure they know they can always come to you, no matter what if they see something they don’t like or shouldn’t.
- Set appropriate rules for online. Whether this is about the time of day, a number of hours per week, specific sites that cannot be visited is up to you. This could involve setting up a family agreement about what is allowed online, why, and any punishment. Note, the threatening to remove internet access may limit their desire to come to you if they see something they shouldn’t.
Before looking specifically at the software it’s important to note that some devices including laptops, routers and mobile devices have built-in tools to help in this space. Check these out and see if they are suitable before committing to purchase the software.
There are of course a number of apps available that have profiles or are built specifically for children including Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube Kids, Spotify Kids, ABC Kids, and Messenger Kids. If you find these tools don’t cut it and you need additional software, there are a number of options:
Bark helps families manage and protect their children’s online lives. It monitors 30+ of the most popular apps and social media platforms, including text messaging and email, for signs of digital dangers. The screen time management and web filtering tools help you set healthy limits around how and when your kids use their devices.
Qustodio is meant to be one of the most comprehensive parental control apps available, and you can choose between a free basic version or pay up to access extra features. One of the best Qustodio features is the panic button. Kids can access the panic button through the Qustodio app on their smartphone. When they hit the button, you get an instant panic alert—and thanks to location tracking, you can pinpoint exactly where your kid is when they call for help.
Net Nanny offers a lot of features and has a strong reputation, but the setup is a struggle and it costs a little more than some other options out there. Once set up it’s easy to set filters and use, however, the security can apparently be outsmarted so it’s maybe not the best if you have a tech-smart child who’s always trying to outsmart the tools.
One of Kaspersky’s most innovative features is low battery alerts. When your child’s phone needs a charge, you get a notification. This means no more “my phone died” excuses when you ask why your kiddo ignored your call or text message. There’s a free version available, but it’s really basic—if you want more than a content filter and screen time management, you’ll have to upgrade to the premium plan. Kaspersky Safe Kids is one of the more budget-conscious tools on the market.
Personally, we haven’t yet installed any tools for our daughter but it’s something we monitor constantly, and with home-schooling and lockdowns this year she has developed her tech skills significantly meaning we’re more conscious of what she’s doing online and trying to ensure it’s under control.
The eSafety Commissioner website has some good information available to help you work through this with your children as well as with the technology.
Safewise 2020 Buyers Guide – https://www.safewise.com/resources/parental-control-filters-buyers-guide/
PC Mag Australia, Best Parental Control Software – https://au.pcmag.com/parental-control-monitoring/44998/the-best-parental-control-software
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