Technology is a blessing and a curse for modern parents.
In one sense, it’s super easy to just set your kids up with an iOS device like an iPhone or iPad, tablet, or game console to keep them occupied for hours at a time. However, screens can be addicting, and the internet isn’t exactly a kid-friendly environment at times.
With safety and security concerns – and the issue of too much screen time – more parents are looking for parental control settings allowing them to take back control of the tech situation when it comes to their kids.
Enter the “digital parenting” movement, which focuses on the practices and policies that make a safer, more balanced internet experience for families as they navigate this new era.
What are the parental controls systems that work best when developing your own digital parenting strategy? Plus, how can you ensure your kids’ internet usage is managed in an appropriate way?
Let’s talk about the exact tools and techniques you can use to keep your family safe on the internet and the common pitfalls that impact many parents of this generation.
None of us were given a guidebook to digital parenting, so let’s start by mapping some of the common issues we face as parents in this regard.
We’ll list four of the most relatable problems in the digital parenting realm, then follow up with practical solutions with parental controls tools that work.
This is the main fear that comes to mind when raising kids in the internet era. Despite its many advancements and built-in protections, the internet is still largely an environment built by adults, for adults.
Even the most cautious, well-intentioned child can find themselves in parts of the internet. Many individual apps, app store purchases, adult websites, or general web content are far from kid-friendly and are always just a few clicks away.
Besides, kids are naturally very curious about the world around them and use the internet as a discovery tool – for better or worse.
Encountering adult content, whether sexual or violent, is a top concern for parents anywhere, no matter the age of the children involved.
The internet is a gateway to connecting with other people via social media and other avenues, but this can also prove hazardous for young kids who are impressionable and sensitive.
Cyberbullying and explicit language on social media has become a serious concern for parents in the past decade. While campaigns have helped slow the trend, these negative interactions still happen constantly among kids of all ages.
While cyberbullying tends to happen between children who already know one another from school or sports, there are also strangers on the internet with bad intentions who must be avoided as well.
A consistent digital parenting strategy will include systems to curb bullying on social media. It will also reduce the chances of interfacing with bad actors on the web through apps, chat, and email.
Modern tech is designed to keep us hooked, always craving the next social media post, YouTube video, Netflix show, or a round of Fortnite.
Even adults struggle with screen addiction. So, we can only imagine how difficult it can be for young kids to break away from their phones and tablets without a developed sense of self-awareness and discipline.
Things become even trickier for parents in the digital age as we account for trends like online schoolwork and the fact that our children’s social lives occur online more than ever.
Finding a balance is undoubtedly key when crafting your digital parenting game plan. The negative effects of too much screen time and too many app purchases can compound if left unchecked.
By this point in the internet era, you’ve surely heard stories about people falling for scams, inviting malware into their networks, or opening themselves up to other types of cyberattacks without knowing better.
If this happens to the “adults in the room” like us, we can’t expect our children to be much wiser when avoiding these types of security threats.
You may relate to one of the scenarios we’ve described, or perhaps all of the above.
Have no fear – we’re now going to lay out the parental controls solutions that address each problem directly. These will help you effectively manage your kids’ internet usage.
At the foundation of any true digital parenting plan is a strong and effective content filter that blocks explicit content based on your preferences.
We’re talking about more than the standard system settings, Google SafeSearch, or a plug-and-play extension from the app store.
The best content filters are broad in scope and granular in detail, meaning they can block websites and stop any type of unwanted images, videos, and even text from entering the network altogether.
Furthermore, content filters and privacy restrictions should be fully customizable and configured for specific profiles, such as your child’s account. This means you can apply different settings based on the age and maturity of your child.
Finally, a content filter must be continually updated and reinforced with the latest, most relevant information from a central database of parent-reviewed information to yield the best content restrictions.
That way, your filters will always be up to date and never a step behind the times.
Content filters are a great first layer for parental controls, but another dimension of visibility is also crucial to give you the insight and analysis you need.
This is where most parental controls features fall short – they don’t give you a complete view of network activity or a full rundown of internet usage activity for each device and individual.
Hold your parental controls to a higher standard and ensure you get these features when implementing a set of software to your web browsing.
With this technology in your toolbelt, you will always be on top of trends in behavior on a web browser, time spent on apps, and be able to address red flags immediately when they appear.
To take the reins for your family’s internet usage, you need to leverage access controls and scheduling systems that allow or restrict certain apps and Wi-Fi when you see fit.
There are times of the day or week when you simply don’t want your kids playing video games or scrolling through social media. Powerful parental controls will let you shut down access to these apps while still permitting the allowed apps with the push of a button.
When internet usage begins to interfere with things like homework or family time, you can shut down those addictive apps and steer your children back on track.
Unfortunately, we sometimes overlook the fact that security is part of a complete digital parenting package. Cyber threats are constantly aimed at our networks. Unfortunately, kids are targeted as “weak links” that can compromise your system, Google account, or whole Android device entirely.
Adding an extra layer of cyber security is absolutely a smart move in this current phase of tech. Additional security is especially critical as we grow more reliant on the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart home networks that include appliances and physical security components.
Indeed, the connection between cyber and home security is closer than ever before. Applying advanced security features at the router level is a no-brainer when building a full-spectrum digital parenting plan.
Rather than cobbling together several pieces of software and extensions across various apps and devices, opt for a parental controls router covering all your bases at the network level.
The best routers give you access to all the technologies we described above, in addition to the latest security protocols and dedicated apps for top-down control – not to mention lightning-fast mesh Wi-Fi functionality for your growing network of devices.
We understand the feeling that many parents experience in today’s digital world. It can feel like you aren’t connected to your children as you should be or that you’re letting time pass you by due to a dependence on screens, Xbox games, movies and TV shows, iTunes, and social media.
You may also get the sense that too much internet exposure is impacting your kids in a negative way in terms of mental health or social development. You aren’t alone, so don’t worry – our tips can help you take back control with a digital parenting strategy.
Remember to pinpoint the exact issues you face as a family, put the correct systems in place, such as screen time limits, and continually follow up and tweak your plan over time to meet new challenges.
Digital parenting isn’t always easy, but the right technology and tactics can give you a renewed sense of control, confidence, and peace of mind moving forward.
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With over 20 years of experience in networking technology and security, the Gryphon co-founders led the team that invented the revolutionary MiFi mobile hotspot technology. As much as we appreciate the benefits and convenience of being connected, we also deeply understand the associated threats.
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