What can we do about sexting? Will monitoring help? A common question parents have – and an ongoing debate within the comments section on many of my articles – is whether or not to monitor their kids’ internet and phone activity.
It is common these days for each member of the family to use more than one Internet-connected device. In fact you might call it the new normal. In addition to home computers, you’ve got smartphones, tablets, iPods, gaming devices and smart TV’s. How many screens are in your home? I just counted 15 here – 2 TV’s, 1 computer, 2 laptops, 1 Kindle fire, 2 iPads, 1 iPad mini, 3 smartphones, and 3 (old and rarely used) iPods. Each of these connects to the Internet. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could monitor, filter and control usage on any of these devices without having to install something on each device?
Guess what, it is possible!
Here is a round-up of parental control tools that cover every device in your home.
Flinch is an app by the makers of OoVoo. The premise of this app sounds fun – it’s basically the digital version of a staring contest. The first person who smiles, loses the game. While the technology behind the app is impressive, parents should know that kids using Flinch can stare down with complete strangers.
As a parent, you might be looking for parental control tools for many possible reasons. You might be concerned about the content your child sees when surfing the web. You might be concerned about too much screen time and want to set limits. You might be concerned with who your child communicates with. You might be concerned with the content your teen is sharing on social media. You might be concerned with all these things!
Parental control tools can assist you as part of a “digital parenting” toolkit. I say toolkit because that’s what any software product is – a tool to assist you, not to replace you. Meaning, you can’t just rely on a parental control software product alone. Ongoing discussions are key to establishing healthy internet and device usage habits.
This list includes some of the products that I’ve wanted to write about, but just haven’t had the time. I’m also including some of the parental control and monitoring software tools I’ve written about already, for a “one-stop-shopping” resource on the site.
Ever see those posts on Facebook that urge you to “share this to save it on your wall so you can find it later? Well that is one way to save it for later so you can find that recipe or funny video or article that you don’t have time for at the moment. Of course when you share, all your friends are seeing that post too. And that’s fine, as long as you don’t mind all your friends knowing what you want to cook or watch or read. But did you know there’s an easier, more private way? Here’s how to use the “Save” feature on Facebook.
This review is a slight departure from my usual topics, as the book “How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success” doesn’t specifically deal with digital parenting and technology. The book takes a look at so called “helicopter parenting” and the “checklisted” childhood prevalent in American child rearing. Is the parent’s desire for their child’s high achievement and acceptance into the “right” college hurting or helping children?
Now that I’ve been using iOS family sharing features for a few months, I’m finding it isn’t quite as bad as I thought it would be. I wrote earlier this year about the “Pros and Cons” of iOS Family Sharing. This post builds upon that one, but focuses on one feature in particular that I’ve found useful: location sharing. With location sharing, you can check in on the location of family members, without the need for an additional app on your device or theirs.
VISR is a social media and e-mail monitoring tool that alerts you when there is questionable activity on your child’s social media or e-mail account. Unlike other monitoring tools, you won’t see everything. VISR only alerts you to potentially unsafe activity and not every little detail. Your kids won’t feel so much like you’re stalking them, and you won’t be overwhelmed with too much information.
There is a feature in iOS that lets you share photos with other Apple users nearby. This feature is called AirDrop. It can be a convenient way to quickly share content with friends and family members from one device to another. But it can also be used for more nefarious purposes. Learn how to prevent AirDrop from being used by strangers to send (icky) photos to your device!
Here are a few apps all parents should have on their radar. Periscope and YouNow are apps used to live-stream video from your phone. More than just recording videos and sending them, with these apps you hit “record” and people can watch you – live. Sound a little scary? A little voyeuristic? A little narcissistic? I thought so too! I downloaded these apps to see what they were all about and yes, there are many kids and teens broadcasting their lives.