We’re more connected today than ever before, and while this brings plenty of good things into our lives, it also brings its share of headaches — particularly for parents. With all the devices your kids have access to every day, how do you make sure everything they’re exposed to is appropriate?
Of course, your first line of defense is simply being an involved parent — paying attention to what your kids are doing and keeping the lines of communication open. But technology also offers plenty of tools that can help you.
We can’t list every possibility, but here are some things you might want to think about.
Parental controls on tablets and phones: Just about any mobile device offers some type of parental controls. The New York Times recently reported that Apple’s iOS offers better parental control features than Android, but there are options no matter what kind of phone or tablet you own. Here are some useful links showing how to set up restrictions on the three major platforms:
- iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch (remember that some iPods are almost as capable as full-fledged computers).
- Android phones or tablets.
- Windows phones and Microsoft Surface.
Remember that inappropriate content may not be the only thing you want to block: for example, some apps allow in-application purchases that can run up a big credit card bill if kids don’t realize what they’re doing.
Individual user accounts on your computer: All modern operating systems allow you to set up multiple user accounts on a single computer, with every user having a different set of permissions. This allows you to do much more than just prevent kids from accessing restricted sites. You can set limits on what times any given account is allowed to be logged in — for example, you can leave your own account completely unrestricted but have the computer automatically force kids to log off at bedtime. If you have a different user account for every child in the house, you can even set a later logout time for older kids and an earlier time for younger ones. To learn more about the options available on different platforms, click the following links for Windows and Mac.
Filtering through your wireless router: Many routers come with parental control software. The advantage to this is that it covers all devices accessing your network without having to set up each computer or tablet individually, but there are some downsides too. The biggest is that it only covers devices accessing the Internet through your home network. It doesn’t affect phones or tablets with a 4G connection, and it also doesn’t prevent anyone from accessing a neighbor’s unrestricted wifi or simply taking their device within range of a public network.
Restricting your Cable TV: Although a lot of attention gets focused on keeping kids safe online — and rightly so — don’t forget that depending on your Cable package, there may be things on TV you don’t want them watching unsupervised. Your set-top Cable box has built-in parental controls that you can access using your remote. If you need help setting up your controls, you can click on the red tab in the lower right corner of any page on our website — look for the words “How can we help?” if you’re on your computer, or “Chat” if you’re on a mobile device — or call our helpdesk at 888-221-2277.