Keeping children safe online is a crucial responsibility for parents, and it’s a task made more difficult because these days kids are constantly connected to the internet. Parental control software is a tool designed to help parents in the modern age. Products can schedule screen time or filter out inappropriate content as well as performing more complex functions like preventing children from spending online or tracking GPS location on phones. Some companies send out reports to parents as a summary of what the kids have been doing.
So, parental control software can cover lots of different roles, but the essential aspect is that it’s designed to work with parents to protect children from online dangers.
Why Is Parental Control Software Used?
Though the internet is an amazing educational tool for children that broadens their minds and teaches them about the world around us, parents have to worry about the internet’s dark side.
Naturally, parents just want their kids to be safe, but it requires constant vigilance because even websites as popular as Facebook and YouTube are full of inappropriate content, and there’s the lurking threat of online predators. Installing parental control on computers, tablets, and phones is the solution for many parents, allowing the software to step in and ensure children’s online experience is a positive one.
Of course, there’s a fine line between monitoring and spying and it’s up to the parents themselves to decide where that line is. Ideally, the software should be used as a set of collaborative house rules of how children should use the internet, but there’s a danger that monitoring may turn into surveillance which can hurt trust between parent and child. Some products can monitor messages or provide GPS location, so it leaves little room for personal privacy which is also important in a child’s development.
What Can It Be Used for?
Each parental control solution has different features, but they all aim to do the same thing – help parents. Of course, everyone has different requirements, so software typically covers a wide range of functions.
For some parents just having an application that monitors screen time is sufficient while others are looking to apply online filters to obstruct access to undesirable content or instead create a safe space made only from approved websites. Parental control software frequently monitors children’s social media accounts, which is especially important because social media can become a hotspot for cyber bullying and a haven for predators. Parents can even choose to block social media apps and websites completely if necessary.
Monitoring activity on mobile devices is also possible with some select software. Many allow you to block apps or read messages, and a few are able to monitor battery levels and even GPS locations to find out exactly where your child is. Some products even come with a panic button that sends out a distress signal when kids are in danger.
What Types of Parental Control Software Are There?
Parental control software comes in different styles with a variety of features. Some can simply change your DNS to filter out adult content like OpenDNS Family Shield. There are apps designed just for Android and iOS that function more like the NSA than parental control, hidden from view whilst intercepting messages, calls, and social media interaction, this includes apps like MobiStealth and XNSPY.
Others are more complete packages that give you monitoring capabilities for tablets, phones, and desktops, as well as restricting content and feeding back all the information to you – Qustodio and Norton Family Premier are great examples of these types of software.
Parents have a large market to choose from with different solutions for different online risks and we’d recommend exploring all the different options available to find what’s right for you.