There are plenty of articles explaining how to educate children about online safety and appropriate web behavior. Many sites encourage us to take charge and limit screen time and prohibit access to the Internet and social media platforms to kids under 13.
However, in the real world, parents purchase smartphones and tablets to their children and kids get the most of it: create accounts on the social media, install different apps, watch YouTube videos, use instant messengers and communicate in chat rooms with people they do not know.
Parents are not always able to handle monitoring and using the same social media platforms to keep track of all kids’ online activities. Besides, sometimes it cannot help the issue anyway – simple texting can do more harm than all online activities put together.
Creators of parental monitoring apps place emphasis on the fact that simple observation and educating children about online behavior is insufficient. It is necessary to monitor everything without taking children at their word that they do nothing objectionable; although, building trustful relationships is a priority, too. First and foremost, parents have no idea how the installed apps operate and how children use them. In addition, children have a lack of responsibility and are not mature enough to make well-thought-out decisions. That is why it is essential to use remote monitoring and managing apps with:
- Distinguishing time when kid can surf the Internet and play games;
- Controlling installation of apps on a kid’s gadget;
- Monitoring SMS and phone calls;
- Checking contact list in order to learn the social circle of a child;
- Filtering websites with adult or other inappropriate content;
- Blocking major part of phone’s features for a certain amount of time;
- Managing apps;
- Protection from deleting or blocking the parental app.
It is said that the most vulnerable age of minor smartphone users is 13-14 years, so parents should carefully come down to the point and focus on protecting their children. Recently, the main problem of kids’ online activities was cyberbullying; today it is sexting. Pallid statistics states that almost a quarter of minor Internet users has experienced it – and we are talking about not just typical situations when an ex-partner shares personal photos with others. Sometimes strangers seduce children asking them to make provocative pictures and then blackmail them threatening that otherwise they will publish them.
Take into consideration that any display of such photo no matter to whom will be considered as a distribution of child pornography – even if a parent shows it to a teacher. The only place where it is possible to share such images is law enforcement and the Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
One of the workable approaches to the proper usage of handheld web-connected devices is creating a set of rules and letting a kid sign a contract where he states that knows the rules –how and when to use the phone or a tablet. In case the rule is broken, the device is taken away.