There are some great apps you can use to monitor your kids online – and some are even free.
The internet is a terrifying place to send your children. Predators prey on young people, pictures never really go away, trolling fanatics ambush news feeds, and decade-old tweets can haunt future careers. It’s not like we can completely take our kids off the grid until they graduate from high school, so how can we protect them?
Until a child reaches their mid-20s, their prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that helps them plan and control their impulses, isn’t fully developed. “Part of the parent’s obligation is to be in the place of that center of judgment to help the child make better choices,” said Adam Pletterchild psychologist who runs the iParent 101 parenting and technology workshop.
He thinks spying is very different from surveillance and that “supervision and mentorship” is what parents should aim for with their children’s online activity, “like any other parental concern, in hopes of protect and teach their children to better regulate themselves in their lives. adolescence and young adulthood.
This monitoring should start “as soon as possible, because it’s a mess to put the toothpaste back in the tube,” Pletter said.
While the FBI doesn’t endorse any particular surveillance app, it encourages parents “to become familiar with all devices their children have access to, computers, tablets and phones,” said FBI Jacksonville public affairs officer Amanda Videll. .
“The best thing is to be involved,” she added. “There is no substitute for direct and constant engagement with your child. Parents should have ongoing conversations with young people of all ages to encourage responsible behaviors online and warn them of the risks of communicating with people they do not know personally.
If you catch your child doing something inappropriate, remind them that mistakes are “part of how you grow up,” says Diana Graberauthor of “Raising Humans in a Digital World: Helping Kids Build a Healthy Relationship With Technology”.
She recommends keeping children out of apps and social media for as long as possible, and that all choices about the internet and the apps used are discussed openly with children. “Sit the family together, make decisions about what’s right for this kid, what you trust him on, what you still want him to have restrictions on,” she said. “Choose restrictions together. Revisit in a month.
The goal is to trust the kids as much as possible and keep the conversation open, so if they come across anything upsetting or inappropriate, they know they can talk to you.
Here are six apps to help you as a parent monitor your kids online.
Although the app only works for phones, Bark is a popular choice claiming to have detected over 629,000 serious harm situations and 2.6 million serious bullying situations. Bark lets parents block websites and apps, manage screen time, get location updates, and monitor text messages, video sites, emails, and 30+ networks social. The app filters out everything from inappropriate conversations with strangers to signs of depression or suicidal thoughts, sending immediate alerts to parents if anything of concern is detected. There’s even a Samsung Bark phone with built-in Bark monitoring.
Cost: Seven-day free trial, then $5 for younger version, $14 for premium version. Packages include unlimited family members. The plan with phone included is $49 per month.
Qustodio lets parents set limits on children’s overall daily screen time, like most of the other apps on this list, but it also lets them set limits for individual apps as well as block out many periods each. day, such as homework time, dinner time and bedtime. The easy-to-use app blocks inappropriate content, monitors what kids are watching, and offers location tracking and notifications when kids arrive at set locations. It also allows parents to view contacts, calls and messages, and sends them daily, weekly and monthly activity reports. It can be used on computers, phones and tablets with Android or iOS operating systems.
Cost: Free for one device, then from $54.95 per year for five devices. You can get a three-day free trial.
3. Find My Children
If you are not interested in monitoring your kid’s internet usage, but want to know that your kids are physically safe, this app focuses on location tracking, monitoring the location of your child and sends you notifications when they reach set landmarks, and even lets you listen to your child’s surroundings. (This feature is not available on iPhones.) If your child is in danger and they can’t call you, they can send you an SOS signal, telling you their exact location while their phone automatically starts calling you. audio recording. If your child doesn’t have a phone, a Find My Kids watch is available.
Cost: For one device: $2.99 per month or $33.98 per year ($16.99 at time of writing due to promotion). Up to three devices: $42.99 per year. Minutes for the live listening feature are $1 per 30 minutes, $4.49 for 180 minutes, $14.99 for unlimited each month.
4. Google Family Link
It is a free and easy-to-use app that allows parents to monitor app usage, set screen time limits and track kids’ locations. Using Google Maps with the app will allow you to be notified when your kids reach set destinations. Although parents cannot limit screen time for individual apps, they can block individual apps. Google Family Link also lets parents manage in-app purchases so kids can’t go on a spending spree. Once a child turns 13, they must consent to continue being monitored with this app.
Cost: To free
5. Kaspersky Safe Kids
The free Kaspersky plan is a decent option if you don’t need all the features. The free plan includes web and app content filtering, YouTube filtering, app usage control, and screen time limits. The paid plan includes GPS location tracking, battery tracking, and real-time alerts if kids go to inappropriate sites or stray from set locations. Kaspersky Safe Kids works on all platforms and can be used on an unlimited number of devices.
Cost: Free or $14.99 per month for premium.
6. Net nanny
Although Net Nanny does not monitor phone calls or text messages, it shines when it comes to real-time alerts if a child searches for blocked content or pornography, suicide, weapons and related content to drugs. It also “masks” profanity on websites, censoring words instead of blocking entire sites, so kids can research their homework without sites being restricted due to a curse word in the section. comments. In addition to that, it has many features of other programs, including location tracking and screen time management.
Cost: $39.99 to $129.99 per year, depending on the number of monitored devices and current promotions
No matter how much you choose to supervise your children, they will make mistakes, and it’s important to remember that this is a stage in their growth. Graber said you want them to know they can come to you and say something like, “I’ve been there. We don’t do it anymore. Here’s what you can do differently.