Now that everything is digital, even kids are sadly turning from outdoor games to indoor gaming consoles and social media. But many online sites and apps have inappropriate content for children that your kids could easily access if you do not take the proper precautions.
You would find a parental control setting on almost all apps nowadays, for example, Youtube or Netflix. There is even a parental control setting that allows for tracking the location of your child using GPS. Yet, many parents either don’t know about these parental control settings or don’t know how to put them to use. Fret not, for we are here to help you! This article will tell you what makes an excellent parental control and some of the best parental control software out there.
Necessities Of A Reasonable Internet Parental Control
First, we will get to know what two things that all good parental controls must have-
One of the essential features of excellent parental software is that it would be able to assume many roles and would be able to suit your needs. Many browsers and apps out there do have built-in settings for parental controls.
But what you need is one tool, that is, one parental software that would give you the option to deal with all the types of management so that you don’t have to think about managing half a dozen programs simultaneously. A parental software that would also manage your kids’ social media accounts or their time on screen is even better.
Customization in parental control software is a crucial factor that makes one software better. Let’s elucidate this point with an example. Initially, Netflix only let parents set an age limit. Children are not exposed to inappropriate content not meant for them. But this feature had many ambiguities; though these settings would block some content, they would also block educational content that was good for children.
The point being, parental controls that allowed just a sliding scale of age limit was useless. Fortunately, modern parental software allows more customization. Some of the best software would even allow you to safelist or blacklist certain content or sites. Moreover, they would also provide you tools to supervise and filter content depending on categories or specific keywords.
Characteristics On Which We Selected The Best Parental Controls
Easy To Use And Easy To Install
We went for the user-friendly apps or software in the sense that they were easy to set up and use. You see, when an app is user-friendly, you will be able to explore and use all its features. Apps that were hard to figure out were not favorable for parents new to this stuff.
Multiple OS Monitoring
We tried to put down such apps that would work in various operating systems. It is common for a child to have more than one electronic device these days. The parent might be using iOS and may need to monitor the child’s Android device. Thus, we needed to stick to the apps that could easily do the job in any operating system.
We tried to stay away from such apps that could get secretly installed on your phone. Spyware apps were a big no-no. These apps could spark trust issues between you and your child, and such apps also have a bad reputation as they are mainly for unlawful purposes. Even though the legal limits of monitoring a child are still ambiguous, these apps could steal data from your phone, which is illegal.
We have also tried to stay away from such apps that “jailbreak” or “root” your child’s phone. “Jailbreaking” or “rooting” implies such apps which override all the phone settings and gain permissions that you would not usually give to an app. They could even change the phone’s operating system, which is not illegal but could make it susceptible to higher risks.
The Best Parental Controls
One of the best parental control software that you could use on your smartphones is the Norton Family. Not only does it work on multiple operating systems, but it also supports many devices and users. Thus, if you have a large family, this app would be best for you. This app does have a higher subscription rate. Still, it also provides you many features, such as web filtering to test management tools. We want to warn you that some of the components may not work on your iPhone, so you need to consider that.
Bark stands arguably in the top rank when it comes to monitoring your child’s activities on social media. While it does not restrict any content, it focuses on your child’s activity and identifying issues like violence or cyberbullying. It also checks for adult content in your child’s accounts or signs of mental health issues or depression. Its subscription is a bit pricey, but you won’t get such an approach to monitoring social media activities on any other apps.
An all-rounder in parental control systems, Qustodio uses the technology of geofencing. It puts the geofencing technology to use via its family locating feature. Geofencing is a more advanced technology than the traditional GPS. It allows parents to set up “fences” around places where their child goes the most. For example, you could set the “fence” up around your child’s school area, and the app will send you a notification when your child arrives there.
Not only does this app is easier to use by parents since they don’t have to monitor constantly, but it also does not invade your child’s privacy. This app could come in handy, especially if you have older children who drive. You would be able to keep track of where they are, especially when running errands such as picking up their younger siblings.
It offers you a range of tools for controlling your child’s activities that work on multiple operating systems and various browsers. If you use this app for free, you won’t be able to use many features. If you buy the premium to monitor just one profile or device, you will be able to make full use of this app. Qustodio is also very easy to install, both on your phone and your child’s, and then start using it. This app also allows parents to customize it according to their requirements.
Most of the apps and software we went through had various location tracking features. But the best among them was Life360, as tracking was its specialty. It can provide you the geolocation location information of up to 140 countries and all seven continents. The Life360 app is also straightforward to install and use. First, you will need to open an account. Then you will receive an invite code which you would have to enter into your child’s phone after they have installed the app. And you are set! Life360 also has time scheduling features and a Driver Protect Plan for providing location, detection of a crash, etc.
The first thing required if you wish to keep your kid safe from the dark side of the web or keep them safe while on the Internet is communication. Communicating with them and teaching them to be digitally literate are the two skills that no parent control system or software can complete.
You must be candid with your child and connect with them as a friend more than a parent. Respect is a two-way street, so you must keep in mind that they would probably know how to use the Internet better than you do. Not only would they trust you more, but it would also not require you to keep track of each of their activities all the time.