Parents today have a tough job raising kids in a high-tech environment that may not come as second nature to them. And, let’s face it — even the savviest of parents can’t keep ahead of all the online trends and threats out there. But we all know the importance of kids’ safety in our increasingly complex virtual world.
Raising the bar on safety
Parental controls or access controls are tools that allow guardians to set limits on children’s internet use. Controls include content filters (inappropriate content), usage limits (time controls), and monitoring (tracking activity).
Many devices and platforms already have some basic controls built in (think access settings for Android or iPhone and social sites like YouTube). But you can get a higher level of protection from software specifically designed to filter, limit, and track digital activity. There are lots of great options out there, and one of them is built right into certain CenturyLink modems. Secure WiFi by McAfee provides a powerful parental controls solution for CenturyLink customers who are leasing certain modems. CenturyLink also offers a great deal with Bark for online monitoring and tracking.
If you are like many parents, you have concerns about your children’s online activity but aren’t sure how or when to act. Start by considering a family media plan to get the entire family on a healthier path. Then, watch for other indicators that it’s time to put some digital safeguards in place.
Clues it may be time for parental controls
Every family dynamic is different, as is every family’s approach to online monitoring. Depending on your child’s age, you may need to consider parental controls if:
1. They’ve started letting homework and family responsibilities slip
There are a lot of reasons grades can plummet or interests fade. However, if your child is spending more and more time online, you may want to consider software that includes time limits. In addition, limiting or monitoring what goes on in that time can help restore balance and the self-discipline to meet responsibilities.
2. Their browser history shows access to risky content
Innocent online searches can lead to not-so-innocent results. And of course, children go looking for some inappropriate content out of curiosity. Parental controls can automatically filter websites, apps, and web searches to exclude inappropriate material.
3. They won’t give you their device without a fight
If the phone has become the center of your child’s world at the cost of parental respect and family rules, they may be engaged in inappropriate behavior online, connecting with the wrong friends, or struggling with tech balance. With the proper parental controls, a parent can block risky content, view daily activity, and set healthy time limits.
4. They’re not getting enough sleep
Unbeknownst to parents, kids might be swapping sleep for screen time. Setting time limits on online access for specific devices is one of the easiest ways to curb these bad habits and help ensure a healthy amount of sleep.
5. They overshare or demand secrecy to go online
Sure, everyone deserves a certain amount of privacy. But if your child is always sneaking away to chat with friends over social media or text, you may want to make some adjustments. Don’t be shy to browse through your kids’ public social media feeds, if they have them, and pay attention to what kind of personal information they’re sharing. Parental controls and monitoring platforms like Bark can help monitor activity and watch for posts that may indicate emotional or interpersonal issues that need to be addressed.
As always, the first digital safety tool is you, the parent. Experts agree that open and honest communication with your child is the most effective “parental control.” But beyond that, educate yourself and reach for digital tools to help you monitor and enforce limits that are difficult for even the most attentive of parents to watch 24/7. While you may hear some griping, the peace of mind you gain will be worth it.
Secure WiFi comes with parental controls built into the CenturyLink app on select leased CenturyLink modems.