Guest Author: Internet Advisors. Click Here For Original Source
Navigating the internet and its usage regarding your children can be a
difficult subject to talk about and a hard set of rules and ideas to
navigate. On the one hand, your children need access to the internet for
school and socialization (especially in the middle of nationwide school
closures due to the pandemic), and there is eventually no avoiding their
internet use. On the other hand, there are legitimate and serious
dangers online, some of which can cause long-term damage to your
children’s mental health. You do not want to be neglectful about these
Yet, as with most things, after some research and consideration, we find
that a moderated approach is best. You allow your children internet
access with some restrictions and guidelines based on the family’s
individual preferences and needs involved. And there are tools, apps,
programs, and strategies you can use to get the exact results you want,
each of them customizable to your heart’s content and adjustable for
when your children grow older and get more mature.
Yet how do you access all these tools and ideas, and how do you best use
them? What should you even be on the lookout for? That is precisely what
we are here to help with.
Naturally, your first thought about controlling internet access online
would be installing and fine-tuning parental controls on your devices.
And you would be right, as they can be an excellent tool for allowing
you to know exactly what your children are doing online and letting you
prevent them from watching objectionable content or anything you don’t
want them to. We don’t need to tell you about what can be found online,
even if your children aren’t looking for it.
However, you should know that while parental controls are great, they
aren’t a complete solution. Eventually, your children might find ways
around them, much like how you likely found ways around your parents’
restrictions. And some content and images might just get through the
filters, as not everything can be flagged so easily. Parental controls
should be used in conjunction with knowledge, education, and the other
methods and apps listed here in this guide.
Some things you should know about their use and some best practices:
* Before you do anything special and get either some sort of dedicated
app or bought program, first see if there is anything available to
you already built into the systems and apps you are comfortable
with. While we cannot go into every option, we can say that most
major tech companies have options (Google, for instance, has apps
available for you to remotely review and control internet and site
* As we’ll go into more detail about later, you can also expect ISPs
to have options provided in one form or another and device
manufacturers if you’re looking at things such as smart TVs or
* What can parental controls do, or should they be able to do? As a
summary, you can go over this list:
* Filter out content that you deem inappropriate, either manually by
website or by category (violent content, pornography, etc.)
* Impose certain limits on some websites, such as how long each day or
week your children can spend on them or online in general.
* Have more direct monitoring of your kid’s phone. Note that this
might require a more specialized app.
* You can even use location tracking to track your child’s location
(or, more specifically, the location of their phone).
* Manage additional devices on the network, either limiting their use
or cutting them off entirely. This is usually done more via control
of the router, which we’ll talk about more later.
* You should check to make sure that parental controls are still
enabled regularly. Kids often figure out how to disable them
especially if they are on the device itself. And instructions on how
to disable them are easily found online, and often on sites not so
easily blocked (because there’s nothing objectionable on them).
* We recommend you be transparent with your usage of controls, as kids
and teens will not react well to being secretly spied upon; however,
their use is justified in trying to keep them safe.
* Also, remember to loosen controls as you see fit. What is
appropriate to block for a seven-year-old is probably not the best
setup for a 13-year-old. Try not to block to the lowest age if you
have multiple children, or find a way to differentiate between them.
* Remember that the capabilities and distinct mechanisms of parental
controls will change over time. Make sure you occasionally
double-check to see if there is anything more you can do or whether
there might be a more efficient way of doing things.
Age and Maturity Matter
You know your children best, and you know how much control over access
is required for their benefit. While we are sure you are aware of this,
it is essential to remember that your children might grow up faster than
you think. As a result, you’ll notice that the parental controls you are
using aren’t making complete sense and, at times, might even be
hindering their development. While you should still steer them away from
genuinely obscene content, children will eventually need to confront
difficult ideas, with or without your guidance.
Alternatively, you might not feel your children are responsible enough
to use the internet without additional supervision. In which case, you
should naturally follow what you think is best, as people online mostly
do not care about your child’s well-being, but will try to take
advantage of them or influence their minds.
Ultimately, as we will state several times, how you handle internet
access should generally be considered along the same lines as to how you
consider access to any other useful but potentially dangerous if misused
You Need to Know What Is Online
You cannot expect to properly understand the right level of access and
what the right controls would be if you are not aware of what is online
to begin with. While we understand that you may not spend as much time
online as your digital native children, internet literary is a vital
skill to have and develop.
While we aren’t asking you to dredge the deep and murky bottoms of the
internet so that you know exactly what is there, to control internet
access for your kids properly, you have to understand what types of apps
are popular (never underestimate peer pressure) and available.
Search Engines and Safe Search Options
Something we’d like to talk about specifically regarding access is
search options. Search engines are one of the greatest tools of the
internet, and to many people, they effectively are the internet. Yet
while they can lead your children to any information they might want
access to, they can also lead your children to an endless number of
questionable websites and misleading information on various topics.
While some search engines will naturally lead people away from
non-factual information, you cannot trust the system to be perfect.
Your options for a few of the most common search engines:
* You can turn SafeSearch
<https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/510?co=GENIE.Platform%3DAndroid&hl=en> on for Google searches, allowing you to filter out explicit content.
* Note if it’s just turned on via the device by itself, it can easily
be turned off via a few clicks.
* If you are using a supervisory app such as Google’s Family Link, you
will have more control over its usage.
* It does not control the safety of search results from other browsers
installed on the device, of which there is certainly at least one.
* You can adjust Safari’s search options to filter out objectionable
* You can set Bing (the search engine by default for Microsoft
products) to have safe search settings of either on, off, or moderate.
* Naturally, other search engines exist, and your household may use
them, but they are more specialist in nature, and nearly all
children would use the above three. If you are in a different
situation, then you should perform a more specific search.
The Importance of Teaching and Communication
Your children won’t be learning very much, and it will be a constant
struggle if your efforts to control or understand your children’s
internet access aren’t accompanied by efforts to help your child better
understand what the dangers they could face online are and why things
are the way they are online. Just start talking to them
<https://www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/talking-child-online-safety/> about it. You won’t be able to watch them like a hawk forever, so it’s vital to impart your children with knowledge regarding online privacy best practices, best cybersecurity best practices, and how to think critically when online. The best access regulation is self-regulation.
This does not have to, and perhaps shouldn’t, be done all at once, and
you can be careful about the information you share and what would make
sense and be appropriate for your child. Just remember that the dangers
of the internet are not waiting around patiently for your child to know
how to counteract them and that the longer you wait, the more trouble
might occur as a result.
The Dangers of Other People Online
There are undoubtedly many websites your children should not be
visiting, but you also need to be concerned about bad actors on the
sites that would otherwise be fine for them to use. There is nothing
stopping someone from impersonating a child your child’s age online,
complete with photos. While we don’t encourage paranoia, strangers,
whoever they purport themselves to be, should be met with caution.
While you can control access and monitor usage to make sure your
children are safe, we recommend education, and talking with your
children about these topics (at an appropriate age level) is the best
path forward. This way, they make good decisions themselves when they
are put into an uncomfortable situation and so that as the years go on,
they make the best choices.
If you want to control the people your child has access to online, you
can do some of the following:
* You can check social media accounts for who they are following or
who is following them and instruct that those accounts be made
private so no one except friends can see what they are up to online.
* You can block sites that encourage communication with random
strangers. Generally, these sites have age restrictions, but those
have never stopped children on their own before.
* You can regularly ask your children who they talk to online, ask
further questions, and determine if they are appropriate individuals
Remember that the Internet Constantly Changes
The internet might be both dangerous and helpful in many ways, but that
doesn’t mean the internet is static in these methods. The internet is
continually evolving. That means you need to keep yourself up to date
and let your children know that things will change over time as well.
Legislation may curtail predatory practices or reduce access to
dangerous tools online, making things easier for you. Alternatively, new
technologies may develop. Just staying abreast of the tech world on a
fundamental level should generally be enough and keeping yourself using
the same tech as your children, so you can quickly notice changes.
Controlling Cellular Data Plans for Your Children
While most articles and guides on this topic will primarily cover
laptops, computers, and related apps and programs, more children, even
younger children, are regularly accessing the internet on smartphones.
Unfortunately, it’s harder to control access on a smartphone, especially
if your children are technically proficient (as most native users will be).
There will be changes to how this is done over time. You will need to
consider the potential drawbacks of limiting or controlling access to
something that generally contains data and apps that are legitimately
important to your child. Still, via your provider (it may change from
provider to provider), you should be able to set restrictions, rules,
and manually adjust access in one way or another.
Using Your Router to Control Access
You may not think of your router as much more than something to help
ensure that your WiFi reaches the entire house, but many routers today
(or their associated control apps or websites) allow you to control
access. Some may have parental controls built-in (which are far more
difficult to sidestep than their browser or desktop-based counterparts),
and others might have settings you can adjust, so the router shuts off
at a certain time each night. You could go a far more straightforward
route and simply change the password periodically when you don’t want
your children to access it.
You will know best how to use these tools, and you can adjust it as you
see fit. You may wish to forgo router control altogether, and that is a
perfectly fine option, given the potential inconvenience for yourself
and older family members.
Remember Access on Additional Devices
If you genuinely wish to control access to the internet for your
children, you will need to remember that there are numerous devices with
connectivity in today’s world. While you might remember smartphones and
computers, what about video game consoles, old tablets, other Internet
of Things devices, etc.? If you are the one using most of the devices in
the home in the first place, then you might not have much to worry
about. Still, if not, you should do a thorough check.
This can be trickier than you think if you want to set up parental
controls on everything, and you will need to learn a bit about each
device, its potential dangers, and how you exactly you can control
access. If there is a lot of tech in your household, this might turn
into a day-long task, so prepare for that. It might also be wise to
check for updates and new features every once in a while for your
Helpful Tools to Use
While this is not an exhaustive list, you might wish to look into the
following tools and programs, depending on which devices and setups you
use in your home. Some may have been mentioned before, while others
instead are the exact ways you can perform some of the tasks mentioned
* Google Family Link <https://families.google.com/familylink/> might
be useful if your family uses Google devices and Chrome as the chief
web browser (as is generally the case across the country). It allows
you to control how long your children can spend online, on which
apps, and which content they can access. It is free, provides the
most information out of almost anything we looked at and can provide
* If you are wondering more about Apple products and the tools and
settings they offer, they’re more built-in as “Screen Time” than
exist as a separate downloadable app, and you can learn more here
* If you are looking for a program that can simplify control, you may
want to look into a specific parental control program. These are
apps and paid programs such as Net Nanny, Norton Family Premier,
Qustodio, and Kaspersky Safe Kids. Note that these are programs that
are sometimes focused more on content than on total access and
monitoring what your child is doing on the computer (though some
certainly do have that option).
* Your internet browser itself might have useful tools in the history
and settings. You should not rely on these entirely, but you should
also investigate how they work and what you can get from them.
* While this is an extreme measure, you might want to consider using a
keylogger program on your child’s device, which will tell you
everything that is going on. As with other things, this can be
viewed as a major breach of privacy, so you will need to determine
if it is best or necessary. It might be a built-in feature of
another program or something you get separately.
It is your duty as a parent to properly control internet access for
children to maximize the good it can do while minimizing potential harm.
We understand this requires a lot of oversight and research, but we know
that you’re up to the task. We hope you can guide your children through
this often complicated network of information and communication,
especially during these more difficult times.
We also recommend that you review this information regularly partially
as a reminder to yourself and partially, as stated before, because the
situation frequently changes online. We hope you have no trouble knowing
what the best rules for internet access in your household are and that
everything moves smoothly for you and your family in the months ahead.
We are passionate about aggregating large, accurate data sets and
providing it all to our users in an easy-to-use format. Simply put,
shopping is easier for the consumer when he/she knows all available
options. We are not beholden to any single provider and therefore are
dedicated to transparency and giving you unbiased information on all
Follow us on Twitter: @InternetAdvisor