The average age a child is given their first mobile phone these days, is 10.2 years, according to Techchrunch. Mobiles make children safer and makes the operation of running a family that little bit easy by raising the chances that you can get a message to them. As such, proactively managing a new phone and its access settings is now a right of passage for kids.
Phones are complex devices. They are often worth a few hundred dollars which, in the hands of some kids represents something of a risk. Add to that the fact that the phone is a computer with an internet connection. It’s also one of the most sophisticated communication and tracking bug ever devised, it’s not hard to see why an increasing proportion of parents are turning to software which helps you manage them.
What is ‘Parental Control’ software?
I So called ‘parental control apps’ bring device management features that used to be the domain of the Sys Admin in your IT Department at work, to the home.
They are offered by reputable software house, for example, Norton and Trend Micro, who provide your antivirus software now have family management software. The Apps can be found in the Google Play store and can cost as little as $10 per month, to cover the whole family.
There are even examples of phone companies including this sort of software with phone plans for kids in to their plans, a convenient way to get the capabilities of Parental Control software for free and having a single place to call if there’s a problem either with the phone or the software loaded on it.
Typical features you’ll find in kids’ phone management software
There are some common features and functions of the major brand’s Parental Control software. Here are some of the most useful. If one feature is especially important to you, make sure you check it’s in the product you buy.
- Filters social media: All Parental Control software has some form of internet filter which allows you to block social media. Some also scan for concerning words, flagging their presence.
- Restrict time available for kids to use the mobile internet: Just as useful in avoiding a regular evening argument about what time the children should turn their phones, off, is another feature common to these apps. Most Parental Control software allow you to set a time in the morning for access to be available to the children and another time for it to turn off.
- Blocks unsavoury sites: Many Parental Control apps contain the ability to set White / blacklists of what your children can or cannot see when they’re online.
- App blocking: The ability to stop children accessing apps you don’t want them to have access to along with a recommended list.
- Reports communication: There will be some facility to review what the child has sent out by way of messengers. That can be everything from a record of each SMS and message to a subset based on which conversations you want to monitor.
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Bringing it all together
Make no mistake, Parental Control solutions will give you absolute control over every aspect of your child’s digital interactions. Best practice says that they have to be used in coordination with family agreements, to get results. Many families insist that their kids use the interest in a room where there are other people, and insist on passwords to get in to the phone, for example. One father I know insists on his ability to check out the kid’s internet browsing history.
These features are increasingly common and more often than not, are bundled in with other products as a value add (like the phone plan we mentioned earlier. Additionally, apple are working on features for their core apps which will deliver functionality as good as if not better than these dedicated apps. Having used this Parental Control software myself, I found it too much to sensibly manage after about a week. The number of notifications that have to be managed was just too much. But there is no denying the value of the concept and the importance of protecting children in their parent’s eyes.
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