About a month ago I was sitting at a campfire with my extended family. My cousin’s 3-year-old daughter, Lana, was sitting next to me with her iPad. Apparently, she had just learned how to take selfies with it and was trying out over a hundred different faces that she could make and then observing them with her device. Watching her was amusing at first, but then startling once I thought about how much different she is going to grow up than the way I did. I’m 33. Facebook was just starting to become a thing when I started going to college. Now Facebook and other social networks are part of nearly every hour of my life for both social interaction and work. Although my life is completely different than it was in the ’90s, Lana’s life is going to be vastly different given the technology that she has already acquainted herself with. New parents today ought to bear this in mind when considering how to keep their kids safe with this new and ever-evolving technology.
If you missed our tech tip earlier this week, we briefly talked about some apps that can be harmful to kids such as Tumblr, Kik, and YikYak. Some of the main underlying problems of the apps are the risk of children viewing and sending inappropriate content and the risk of contact with dangerous strangers. However, these apps are just the tip of the iceberg as there are hundreds of other apps, many of them widely used, that can lead to problems of this nature and more. Adding a further layer of complication to these problems is the fact that many parents live in a completely different world than their kids. As illustrated above, not knowing what it is like to grow up on an iPad creates a gap between parents and their kids. However, with careful research and preparation, parents can still bridge this gap and properly adapt their children to this changing world.
First, it is important for parents to monitor what their children are doing on the internet as much as possible. However, this must be done in the right way. There are many monitoring apps available, but some are too controlling and restrictive of harmless internet access. It is best to use a monitoring app that can give parents the ability to monitor what their kids are seeing on the internet and control what pages they can and can’t access. Additionally, parents can also reward kids for good use of the internet and there are apps that facilitate this. For these reasons, we recommend the following apps.
The first app that we recommend is Screen Time. With Screen Time, parents can reward their children after they finish homework and chores. Parents can also schedule bedtimes and school hours as times when their children cannot use the internet. There is also the option of giving monitoring access to family relatives and caregivers. Another app is UnGlue which is designed to give kids good habits in using the internet. With this app, parents can set boundaries on apps by bundling them together and creating time limits. The app QuStudio is a monitoring app that lets parents block inappropriate content while monitoring social media, calls, and texts. Parents can also install location tracking with this app. These are just a few apps that can be helpful in monitoring but there are many other apps out there that are great without being too overbearing on kids.
This article is meant to be a springboard on how parents can monitor internet access with a few app recommendations, but it is certainly by no means exhaustive. Technology is always evolving, and it is important for parents to continue to do their research on safe and dangerous uses of the internet for their kids. With careful research and appropriate action, parents can raise their children to embrace the new world in a healthy way.