If a mobile device for your child is on your Cyber-Monday shopping list, you’re not alone. The average American child owns a smartphone by age ten, while almost half of kids aged eight and under own their own tablet.
Our children’s digital devices - from smartphones to laptops, tablets to gaming consoles - are portals to new worlds of information, entertainment and interaction. It’s an exciting time to be a connected family. But as parents of the digital age, we are learning that connection can be both a privilege and a challenge.
Boundary-setting: easier said than done
The first challenge is managing the sheer volume of screentime our kids consume. Is your teen online “almost constantly”? Well, so are a quarter of her peers, according to recent Pew Research. Kids under eight are already clocking in about two and a half hours every day.
Even more worrying, the online world has brought more overt dangers into our homes too - cyberbullying, porn, sexting, gambling, and worse.
As a concerned parent, you have probably tried to do some boundary-setting. But, as they say on Facebook, it’s complicated. Everybody knows consistency is key. Problem is, family life is not consistent - and the rules you confidently implemented on Friday night may have ended up bent or broken by Sunday morning. (We’ve all been there!)
Why is it so darn complicated?
Apps and devices may be equipped with their own parental controls. But talk about complicated! In a perfect world, we’d be checking our kids privacy settings on every app they are likely to use til they get to college. But who has time? Or even the know-how? With so many devices to protect, and clever kids who know so much more about the technology than the grownups do, parents are fighting an uphill battle.
And that’s just at home. Once your kids head to school - what then? Classrooms are increasingly connected too. And the distractions and potential dangers that go along with that are creating as much worry for educators as they are for moms and dads. Blocking social media apps on the school wifi network is one thing. But with virtually every schoolchild packing his own connected mobile device, the old-school “internet nanny” just doesn’t cut it anymore.
If only there was some parent-proof system that could handle all of this for you - that would keep your kids safe and happy and responsible online without you having to play the role of cyber-cop. If only you could get the control back.
Actually … you can.
Parental controls to the rescue
Thankfully for all of us, automated parental control solutions are now a reality. And there’s a whole host of mobile apps and connected systems parents can choose from to manage screen-time, block or filter content and even set device bedtimes. The best of these work across all devices - even the mobile ones - and coordinate across home and school, to give you peace of mind wherever your connected kids happen to be.
Yep, technology has created the problem, but with just a modicum of input from mom and dad, technology can solve it too.