More than ever, the internet is an ever-present part of our lives and that’s especially true for kids who can’t cope without it. Since 53% of children in the U.S. own a smartphone by age 11 (rising to 84% for teenagers), they have access to the internet all the time. When it comes to social media, it’s a similar story with about 58% of children aged eight and older having social media accounts. Understandably, this is worrying for parents as without guidance social media can have a negative impact on kids. Whether it’s because of cyberbullying, sexual predators, hate speech, or a lack of focus on schoolwork, it’s important to keep your children safe while they’re using social media. It might seem like an impossible task, but there are plenty of tools to help you keep track of your kids’ online activity and ensure they’re always safe online.
Child-Friendly Social Media Platforms
In response to the popularity of social media networks, child-friendly alternatives have appeared that put parents in control. One example of this is Messenger Kids created by Facebook, which allows kids to message and video chat with friends while parents supervise and monitor every step of the way. There are other options too, like FamilyApp – designed for families to create safe online communities – as well as Fennec and JusTalk Kids that are developed with children in mind.
Working up from there are apps like PopJam and Grom Social that better replicate the feel of modern social media apps such as Snapchat and TikTok while remaining safe for children. This is a great starting point for younger kids to learn good habits before they move on to more ‘grown-up’ social media networks.
Whether your child uses an Android or iOS device, there are tools to help parents keep kids safe on social media. For instance, Android lets you restrict what apps are downloaded from the Google Play Store, while Apple users get even more options to set restrictions on apps, in-app purchases, and online content.
Some apps also offer child-friendly versions of their software that restrict certain features. One example is YouTube, which offers a version of its app designed for young children. The app filters any inappropriate videos and allows parents to set time limits.
Parental Control Software
The most comprehensive tool that parents can use to keep their kids safe online is parental control software. These solutions are designed to help parents, and they work on a whole other level compared to simple app restrictions.
There are many different kinds of parental control apps, and they all have specialties that you should consider when looking for the right one for your family. For example, Bark has great social media monitoring, so you don’t need to worry if your child doesn’t want to use the child-friendly networks. You can also use software such as Qustodio to thoroughly monitor activity like search history, usage time, and browsing history with the ability to block anything you deem inappropriate. Then there’s Kaspersky Safe Kids, which allows you to set up a schedule for when a device can be used – ideal for when it’s dinnertime. Of course, you can set important apps to continue working even when a device is blocked in case of emergency.
Strong Internet Security
Not everything you need to do has to involve advanced parental control software to monitor activity. There are some fundamental things that will ensure your children are safe online. Just like adults, kids are targets of phishing attacks, ransomware, viruses, hacking, and more.
To combat this, parents need to make sure they’ve invested in internet security. There are internet security suites that protect from malware and viruses, which kids can easily download by accident. Healthy password hygiene is also important, as chances are your child won’t be aware of just how easy it is for hackers to crack a password. Password managers create randomly generated strong passwords for every account, which are stored in an encrypted online vault for maximum safety. Importantly, you also need to make sure your internet connection is secure. VPNs create encrypted and anonymous connections that will prevent hackers from intercepting – something you should encourage your kids to always use with public Wi-Fi.
Best Parental Control Software of 2021
Get the Best Software and Tech Deals
Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to get the best deals, free trials and discounts on software and tech.