(The incident in a Delhi school where a four-year-old boy allegedly ‘sexually assaulted’ a four-year-old-girl has got parents and school community concerned. With access to internet and exposure to sexualised content in an extremely young age, need for parental control has become even more relevant. The Quint is reposting this piece so that the parents are well equipped with the know-how of parenting apps.)
It’s very easy for children as young as 3 to access the Internet these days, thanks to the plethora of Web access devices that have made their way into our daily lives.
In fact, it is normal for children as young as 10 to have their own mobile phones. However, not all of them would be mature enough to handle the big bad world of the Internet.
That’s where parental control apps and software step in to help regulate what your child can do or see with their devices and the Internet.
These apps and software can block access to unwanted content and control the amount of time children spend online. Regulating screen time is essential to set a better routine for your children.
Here are some of the better apps and software available for you to monitor and regulate your child’s devices.
Parenting Apps for Mobile Phones
If you are giving your child a smartphone of their own, make sure you first instruct them about its use and install a parental control app in the phone, with their consent.
This helps build trust between parents and children, if you tell them it is for their own safety. This is most important for children below the age of 13.
Apps such as Nischint, eKavach, Secureteen and Screen Time can be installed on mobile phones, which give you full control over the child’s device.
These apps act as mobile device managers and allow you to block access to certain apps, block adult content on websites, and regulate the amount of time the child can spend on the phone.
A couple of these apps also restrict the phone calls that can be received or made from the phone to only specified contacts from the contact list.
These apps also help with discipline issues with children, since most kids are pretty much addicted to their devices. Blocking access to the device for a short period of time until some task is done works a discipline building tool.
Most parental control apps also act as Geo-fencing tools. They can tell you the location of your child in real-time, and you can set boundaries on a map (such as your residential colony or park). You will get an alert if the child steps outside this geo-fenced area. Since these apps are password protected it is difficult to uninstall them.
A couple of these parental control apps also come with a one-touch SOS button for the child to use in case of an emergency. Pressing that button sends an SMS to and calls a predefined number.
Parenting Control Software for Laptops
For children who have their own laptops or access to a family computer, it is important to install monitoring software. Many anti-virus software companies also make ‘Net Nanny’ applications, which restrict access to unsuitable content on the Web.
Kaspersky, McCafee and Norton are some of the anti-virus software companies that make parental controls available in the anti-virus software they supply. This software mainly just blocks access to adult content and can prevent downloading of malware on a laptop or desktop.
Microsoft Family Safety
However, software like Microsoft Family Safety (that is an integrated part of your Microsoft account), allows you full access to computers running Windows operating systems. It works best with Windows 10. You will need to set up a separate login account for your child on their laptop or desktop PC.
Using the Family Safety option in your Microsoft account, you can set the amount of time and times of the day your child can access the PC. It can also be used to filter out adult content or block access to sites you specify. The software sends you a weekly report of your child’s online activity as well.
Other options to monitor your child’s online activities include setting up an auto-forward function with their email addresses (with their consent, of course) or getting specific standalone GPS tracking devices for them, in case they go out unaccompanied often.
A feature from google that offers some protection is safe search that blocks out adult content.
However, no app is fool-proof, and many children are smart enough to hack and uninstall them easily!
So it is prudent that you have a discussion with your child about the importance of the software for their safety before installing it. These apps and software should be seen as safety aids, rather than something that hinders their freedom.
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