In a study done by Influence Central (2016), there was a notable rise in children’s access to mobile phones and social media from a younger age than in previous years. The average age for a child to get a phone is now 10.3, with 64 percent of kids also having access to the Internet via their own laptop or tablet – a 22 percent increase from 2012. Tablets and phones are also increasingly used on the go, with the usage of tablets going up from 26 percent to 55 percent, and phones increasing by 6 percent to 45 percent from 2012.
Whilst this study was limited to 500 women to keep it in line with the previous 2012 one, the trends identified in it are too noteworthy to ignore. Children are in control of their access to social media and the internet at an increasingly younger age than in previous years, leaving them exposed to online predators, cyberbullying, and adult content. This rise in availability has not been mirrored in parents monitoring of child usage of electronics and Internet. Limits set by parents have actually decreased, with 41 percent limiting access to content online.
Bearing in mind that 1 in 7 child Internet users have been on the receiving end of unwanted sexual solicitations, this drop in parental control in worrying. Nonetheless, there are easy and manageable ways to redeem this dire situation. Parental control apps are an easy and manageable method of restricting access to and monitoring your children’s Internet access. Here are some of the best currently on the market:
- Norton Family Premier ($49.99)
- Norton Family Premier is capable of monitoring a range of devices from Android to iOS. It has flexible content filtering, time-limits Internet and device usage, social media monitoring, and can also monitor what your child is watching on YouTube.
- KidGuard (Free)
- KidGuard for iOS is great for a hands-off approach to parental control. It allows you to view your child’s browser history for any day, monitor all social media apps including Snapchat and WhatsApp, view complete call logs and texts. It comes with a location tracker that actually lets you view your child’s current or past location.
- Net Nanny ($59.99)
- Net Nanny offers the same wide range of services as most top parental control apps do. It monitors social media, has a profanity masking setting, allows you time manage your child’s device usage and has an Internet filter. A family pass is needed to get this app for both Android and iOS.
- Qustodio for Families ($54.95)
- Qustodio is a simple parental control app that allows you to monitor your child’s activities in real-time. Simply download the app on both your and your child’s device to block out adult content even in private browsing mode, limit the use of their device, or even individual apps (or just block them altogether), monitor their social networks, calls, texts, and track their location. There is a basic free version and a more comprehensive paid premium version.
- PhoneSherff ($89.00)
- This handy app allows you to filter out unwanted content from either a tablet or a mobile device, while letting you monitor any actions taken on it, such as texting, call logs, specific numbers and browser history. It also lets you track the location of a device via GPS, all from your PhoneSheriff account. It offers a six-month subscription and a twelve-month subscription.
Of course, in conjunction with these parental control apps, you should have an open and honest conversation with your child about the dangers of online, and agree on what and what isn’t appropriate for them.