It’s becoming more and more common for kids and teens to have smartphones now. We broke down and got our kids smartphones when our daughter started middle school. Giving my kids a device that would allow them to access anything they wanted on the internet quite frankly scared the crap out of me. Not so much because of what they would search for, but what they mind stumble upon by accident.
My job as a parent is to keep my children safe both in the real world and online. I have all of our devices at home under parental controls, Playstation, Xbox and the computers. With them having smartphones it was time for me to look into parental controls for their phones.
Here is my advice for protecting your children with smartphones:
Let’s face it. There is no app that can replace open communication with your kids. That is why this is first and foremost on my list. Let you kids know that the internet can be a dangerous and dirty place. Let them know that you need all of their passwords not only so you can spot check their activity, but so you can help keep track of their accounts should they ever need your help with anything. You can call me a helicopter parent, but as long as I am paying the bills and they are under 18 I will have their passwords and access to any social media accounts they have including games. Period. End of story.
Family Link is a fantastic free app for Android users by Google. This app allows you to set time limits, app download restrictions and filters on Chrome, Google Search and Youtube. The only downside to this app is that it automatically disables when your child turns 13. So if you want to protect your teen you will have to find another app.
Bark is an app that monitors your kids activities on social media, text messages and email. This app is available for phones and Chromebooks. Bark basically grabs screenshots of anything they think might be harmful to your child. They look for cyberbullying, profanity, violence, drug references and sexual content. You can set the alert settings based on what you think is suitable (or not suitable). You get an alert anytime your kid does something that Bark thinks is a threat. This will allow you to talk to your child about any text messages you think could be dangerous or videos they shouldn’t be watching.
Bark will also alert you if your child sets up a new account that isn’t being monitored. No more setting up new secret social media accounts to get around your rules. You will be alerted the minute your child sets up an account so that you can monitor that account.
Bark is only $9 per month for unlimited children, unlimited devices and unlimited accounts to monitor. Well worth the price in my opinion.
I hope this advice was helpful. I would love to hear from you. How do you protect your kids with smartphones?