Your child’s smartphone is a tool for their school work, a means for communication with friends, and a source of entertainment. While their phone and its capabilities may enhance their lifestyle, it also puts them at risk for exposure to negative experiences.
Just as you would protect and monitor your child in real life, you should also keep tabs on their digital usage and online presence. Here are the whys and hows of setting up parental controls on your child’s phone:
Digital devices are gateways to ample information and endless content, some of which are inappropriate for the eyes of children. Even if your child doesn’t intentionally seek explicitly violent or sexual content, it can easily pop up on their smartphone’s internet browser, social media pages, or game app advertisements.
While you can’t completely control what your child hears and sees, you should create parental control blockades that filter content and prohibit inappropriate images, audio tracks, and videos.
Digital Socialization and Interaction Risks
Your child, especially if they’re in their pre-teen or teenage years, uses his or her phone as a social tool for communication and interaction. They talk with their friends on social media, explore blogs and sometimes encounter alluring strangers on the internet.
One of the biggest concerns is that parents can’t witness how their child interacts with others and the kind of communication they engage in while online. With parental controls, you can ensure your child is less likely to be involved in cyberbullying, susceptible to online predators, or fall into identity theft traps.
Excessive Phone Use
Smartphones can be a useful tool for communication and learning or a distraction that hinders productivity. Your child must learn how they can self-regulate his or her phone use, with a little guidance from you.
Through parental controls, you can limit access to certain apps or data usage when your child should be focused on school, homework, or other activities. Eventually, you can adjust data usage and time limit settings, when you feel your child can be responsible for his or her phone use.
How to Set Up Parental Controls
On Apple devices, including the iPhone 7 Plus, you can set up restrictions that will block or limit certain apps and features on your child’s device. On your child’s phone, go into the “Settings” app and find the “General” category, where you will select “Restrictions.” Tap “Enable Restrictions,” which will prompt you to create a passcode that you will use for restriction settings and changes.
You can restrict app use, app installation, in-app purchases, adding friends, and multiplayer games. Additionally, you can monitor the types of content your child accesses or purchases — creating settings for appropriate ratings, specific movies and shows, books, websites, and more. Apple Support provides an in-depth list of parental controls and images of how to navigate the Restriction settings.
Set up parental controls on an Android phone by opening your phone’s “Settings” app. Scroll to find the “Users” menu, which will show the main account of the phone and allow you to “Add user.” The device will log you out and prompt you to sign into the new user’s account, for which you’ll create the settings.
You can skip the Google account set-up, so your child can’t download or purchase games, music, and videos through Google Play. Alternatively, you could create a Google Play account for your child and set up parental controls in the “Settings” menu for rating restrictions, blocking explicit content and disallowing app purchases.
For increased monitoring capabilities, there are a number of parental monitoring control apps available for download on your child’s Android phone. Tom’s Guide — a technology review website — provides a list of the best parental-control apps of 2017, so you can find the right app for your child’s phone.