Keeping your kids safe: Apps to monitor online activity
Published Thursday, September 22, 2016 5:16PM PDT
With cellphones now a ubiquitous item among school-age children, many parents are concerned about how to best prepare their kids for the virtual world.
The app store is now flooded with parental control apps that can monitor and limit children’s online activity, and it can be hard to choose which one might be best for your family.
With the “Family Time” app, parents can check their child’s phone log and browser history from their own phones and can also block certain apps and games. Parents can check their child’s location history and get alerts if their child sneaks out, and kids can send an alert to their parents’ phones in an emergency with the SOS/ Panic Button feature. “Family Time” can also put a cap on screen time.
The app “Curbi” can block inappropriate websites and also limit usage at specific times. Users can view all the apps installed on their child’s phone and can also block specific apps from running on Android devices.
With “Life 360,” users set up “place alerts” and “circles.” Users are notified when members of their circle arrive and leave from pre-programmed locations.
All three apps have free versions available for both Apple and Android products, and a premium version available for a fee.
But while the apps can provide an added level of security, parenting experts believe setting ground rules for children and having open discussions with them about online activity can go a long way.
Jill Amery runs UrbanMommies.com an advice blog for parents, and she recently had to deal with an online incident involving her own 10-year-old son. She gave him permission to set up an Instagram account but was shocked when she was told by another parent he’d used inappropriate language on the social media platform.
“It started with S and ended with T,” she said. “And it wasn’t ‘sat.’”
She laughs about the incident now, but she didn’t at the time. She says she banned Ford from Instagram for a few weeks until he earned back her trust and says there haven’t been any problems since.
Amery says it’s important to lay out rules to your kids and that it can be a chance for them to show how they can be responsible.
“You don’t want to break trust with the kids,” she said. “You want this to enhance your relationship. You want to set your rules like you would have in 1950. And then if they cross or break those rules, there’s consequences.”