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.
Parental control software can be used on computers and devices to assist parents in keeping kids safe online. Here you'll find reviews of parental control software and tools.
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.
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.
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.
One of the biggest challenges parents face is how to manage their children’s online access and device use. Before the rapid adoption of mobile devices it was easier – install parental controls on the family computer and you’re done. While that is still recommended, it will not help when a child’s primary computer use is on their phone or tablet. And when each child has his or her own device it is even more complicated. Luckily there are a number of parental control tools available to help enforce a healthy “tech” balance. Here’s a review of Copilot Family, a parental control tool for smartphones and tablets.
Qustodio is a parental control solution for computers and mobile devices. Full protection is available for PC’s, Mac’s as well as Android devices, with limited controls (web filtering) for iOS devices. I gave it a test run and found it to be a solid product and good option if you are looking for ways to protect your family online.
Ah, that time of year! Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season so far. For me it’s been pretty busy, and you may have noticed fewer posts than usual. So while I haven’t had time to write up a new review or article this week there is still helpful information to share. Whether you are tablet shopping for the kids, wondering about parental controls on the new gaming systems, or looking for kid-safe browsers for iPods, iPads, or iPhones, I’ve got you covered.
Kids are using computers and tablets at younger ages – 38% of kids under the age of 2 have used a mobile device! And it’s common to stumble upon objectionable content when you are not looking for it, even for older kids, teens and adults. So what’s a family to do? One of the most important tools in a digital parent’s toolkit is internet filtering or monitoring software. There are many to choose from, and recently I tested Covenant Eyes. Covenant Eyes is internet accountability and filtering software for computers, tablets and mobile devices.
Care4teen is parental control software for Windows or Android devices. With Care4teen you can monitor what your children are doing on their computer or device, including watching recorded video of their actions. You can put the wisdom of the Care4teen community – or “Care Groups” – behind you when restricting web sites. This is the only “crowd sourced” monitoring software I’m aware of. As other parents rate websites, the software adapts and blocks sites that community at large has deemed inappropriate.