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Can you imagine a modern life without the Internet? No way, right? Work, studying, communication, entertainment – the Web and web-based technology rooted firmly in every area of our lives. Parenting is not an exception. Giving a kid a smartphone or tablet to watch a cartoon on YouTube or play a game while you deal with shopping is today a matter-of-course. Furthermore, buying an Internet-connected gadget for the kid is nowadays seen by many parents as something self-evident.
The thing is that providing children with mobile devices and letting kids surf the Internet unsupervised tend to happen ever-more-early. According to uSwitch agency survey, parents whose youngest child is 1 to 6 years old start to allow kids browse the Internet alone even before they are 5!
Supporters and opponents of exposing children to technology at an early age still cross swords whether it’s good or not but it won’t change the fact that it is happening today and is becoming more and more typical occurrence. Thus, it’s reasonable to look for ways to secure Internet surfing experience and ensure family safe browsing via mobile devices.
The problem here is that traditional methods like placing the computer in a generally used area where parents can see what a kid is doing don’t work. Various restrictive or filtering system options cannot guarantee 100% protection as modern tech-savvy kids easily discover ways to work around such limitations. And as a result – they become exposed to numerous online dangers.
Today, a parent just can’t be too much careful when it comes to the perils that the Net poses to children. The vast majority of them originate from the fact that Internet-enabled devices are the primary mean for kids and teens to meet new friends and interact with the peers. In fact, over half of new acquaintances start online but only 20% of those shift to the real life; the rest remains virtual.
So, here is the list of the most serious dangers that lie in wait for children on the Internet and can be a convincing reason to monitor web browsing:
To protect your kids properly, you must not rest assured that “my kid will never do that” or “hurtful things happen to someone else, not to my child.” You must admit risks and take action to ensure kids’ safety. First, thoroughly analyze your little one’s behavior looking for warning signs that can indicate problems. Such symptoms may include: not wanting to go to school; sudden loss of friends; difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares; decreased self-esteem; frequent feeling sick or faking illness; lost or destroyed clothing and belongings, etc.
Then, talk to him or her, establish a trustworthy relationship and find out what’s going on. But remember that, for instance, only 1 in 10 children tells parents about being bullied. In our case, discovering the problem is even more than half the battle. And then – just be there for your kid to help him or her get through the hard times.
Whether you like it or not, providing children with freedom is only a part of parenting; another vital element is controlling your little ones. How strict the supervision would be – that’s up to you to decide. But first take a reality check and answer yourself a question whether you are capable of monitoring your child’s offline and online activities without any assistance? Let us explain.
The thing is that modern kids are almost inseparable with their mobile devices thus, making monitoring even more complicated. Moreover, kids often are overwhelmingly more tech-savvy than their parents. In uSwitch research, 41% of parents admitted their children’s tech skills are way in advance of their own. These two factors mean that moms and dads desperately need help to stay aware of what their kids are up to. Arguably, the best recipe to comply with modern tech standards in parenting is using specially developed solutions. Regarding ensuring secure online experience on kids’ handheld devices, there are two main approaches:
Device Onboard Tools
Any smartphone or tablet – whatever OS it utilizes – has some sort of built-in parental controls. They can be quite useful for setting certain limitations when it comes to Internet browsing, for example, filtering 18+ materials, violent web games or even social media. It is commonly supposed that iOS’s “Restrictions” are generally more functional and dependable that Android onboard parental controls. Still, both systems are far from being 100% foolproof and can be bypassed with a little effort.
Parental Control App
An alternative to built-in features are a specially designed parental monitoring apps. They are a universal solution where comprehensive Internet activity tracking is just one of multiple functions. Such apps allow parents to follow text messages and multimedia files, monitor calls and contacts, check location and routes. All information can be viewed remotely at any time. Furthermore, due to secure password protection, such app cannot be overridden, so parents will always be able to check on their kid.
If you come to a decision to install parental control software on your kid’s mobile device, be sure to remember that this is just a supplementary tool. By no means it implies that you’re done with parenting work now. For starters, don’t become a control freak – being too authoritative doesn’t have anything in common with being a caring parent. Better use the information you get from monitoring app to discover topics your kid is interested in or issues that bother him or her. And then find a way to talk about it – not straightforwardly but gently; for instance, don’t explain what not to do – explain the options and consequences of certain actions. Thus, you’ll be able to keep children’s trust and respect.