As a follow up to our previous post It takes a layered approach for parental controls, here are additional common tools parents can use with their kids’ technology and a few rules to apply in your family.
A few tool ideas
Parental control apps: Most parental control apps started as app blocking and time limit solutions. Today there are various apps that handle location tracking, app controls, screen time and even monitoring the content inside popular social media and communication platforms. We obviously consider ourselves a good choice for Android and iOS device parental controls but many of our users also leverage Bark which monitors kids’ online activities across platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat.
Family media plan: The American Academy of Pediatrics has created an online form to fill out with your kids, to set goals and limits around technology use. This can be a useful approach in building positive reenforced behaviors and commitments around tech use; it also translates well into real life.
Smart WiFi Routers: Most home routers that are provided by your internet service provider offer some features to control device connections on a schedule and some will even have parental control features. Keep in mind that most routers offering these features will only work when you are connected to them – a smartphone using data will bypass any enforced filtering.
Do Not Disturb: I use this all daily and it’s been great for me. On both Android and iOS, in your device Settings app, you can set a Do Not Disturb schedule. This turns off all sounds and vibrations your smartphone makes when it receives a text message or social media notification. My schedule during weekdays is 9pm to 7am and weekends it’s 11pm to 8am. Between these times, my phone automatically goes quiet. I have a few favourite contacts which will overwrite my Do Not Disturb settings and make noise if they call or text.
Central Charging Spot: I don’t use my phone as an alarm clock so this one is easy. Get a good power strip that also includes USB plugs on it. Set it far from your bedrooms and start a habit of having everyone in your household charge their devices there. These is not a lot of good that can happen with a smartphone in a kids’ bedroom. While you’re at it, make this the spot devices are also put when it’s meal time – too many families sit at the table with their smartphones on it.
The following require no technology at all – just self reminding ourselves to follow through as parents and leaders the household. Some may not work with your style of parenting and that’s fine, these are just suggestions to consider if you feel technology is eating away at important family moments.
Table Talk: Study after study says family mealtime is important – regardless of where you live. Parents should also lead the change too and not bring their phones to the table or leaving them close by and picking them up when they make a noise.
Bedrooms and Smartphones do not mix: This is a common tip that is share but amazes me how many of my parent friends still allow this, especially for young developing minds. These mobile devices are full functional computers. Start small here, this is not a total ban on the device in the bedroom, just at bedtime – consider putting a limit of no device 60-90 minutes before bedroom. Remember that charging location?
Bathrooms too: Many reasons could be put here – the number one reason from my own experience: FOCUS! Nothing worse than that potty break taking 20 minutes because endless YouTube videos were more interesting than wrapping up and moving on from the toilet.
Smartphones and Homework: This one is more difficult as schools have more of their content and lessons accessible online. If your kids are using specific apps for these lessons, with our Android version you can set these apps to Always Allowed and time out the device so others app cannot be used during homework time. It’s highly likely that your child can do their homework without the presence of their smartphone.
Short Car Trips: Put the smartphones away and have a quick chat on the way to school or the next activity you are chauffeuring your child to. Take advantage of these moments to keep the conversation going with your kids.
13 years and older: This is the written legal age that kids should be before signing up for their own social media account. Of course millions are already on there prior to age 13. I have yet to meet a parent that doesn’t regret having their kids on social media prior to 13. So if you are not there yet, keep up the good fight. They are not missing much – it truly becomes a distraction. There’s nothing wrong with waiting – kids can still text and call each other or use an instant messenger service like WhatsApp so they can still send images/videos/group texts but you can still keep an eye on these interactions.
Private accounts: Most social media platforms allow your account to be set to a Private Account. Highly recommend kids set their profiles this way. The benefits are no stranger can view your child’s posts and your child must approve the friend request.
Share Passcodes and Spotchecks: .Before today’s advanced parental control solutions, we set the tone when we gave our kids their first smartphone; we will need your passcode and will occasional review what’s on your phone together. This is an important approach when you are first introducing a smartphone and as you and your child build trust, loosening up the spot checks.
Over Data Limit: As part of the responsibility of using a smartphone, make the call on if you want to have your child pay for any over use on the data plan. Better yet, do not get them data (or share yours) and let them use Wi-Fi only. This way, get them unlimited texting and calling and save a few monthly dollars on your plan. Another benefit, you’ll have extra funds to buy a new smartphone for your kid – they will break them!! 😂 Good reasons why Android is a better choice for your child’s first choice.
Am I missing any? Feel free to share your approaches with a comment ⬇️⬇️⬇️or join the conversation on social media.