With 80% of parents supervising their children’s device use in some way, you’re certainly not alone if you’re thinking about using parental control tools. But how do you know if you need them? And when’s the right time to introduce them? Whether your children are just starting to use technology by themselves or they already have multiple devices, parental controls can support your family in a wide range of situations. We’ve laid a few of them out below.
You’ve just given your child their first smartphone
If you’ve recently decided that it’s the right time for your child to have their own phone, then using a parental control tool is a great step to take. Suddenly having so much information and opportunity for communication at their fingertips is a lot to handle, and setting clear boundaries from the start is the best way to make your child’s new phone – and the rest of their digital journey – a success for them.
Qustodio, for example, helps you to make sure that they’re not viewing any inappropriate content online. You can block whole content categories like social media, and allow more productive categories like education. You can also switch on Safe Search to make sure that no risky content appears when they search on their web browser. Finally, Qustodio’s real-time dashboard shows you all the websites they’ve been looking at, so you can block any that you’re not happy with and start a conversation around any concerning topics you’ve seen.
Your child struggles to get a good night’s sleep
The importance of sleep cannot be overstated, especially when it comes to kids. Regularly getting a good night’s sleep:
- Promotes a stronger immune system
- Boosts attention spans
- Makes learning easier
- Improves memory
- Supports general physical and mental wellbeing
But, for kids and adults alike, devices make it increasingly difficult to really sleep well. The melatonin-disrupting blue light of screens makes it harder to settle down – not to mention the pinging of instant messages and the draw of just one more video on TikTok.
Creating a healthy bedtime routine is much easier with parental controls. You can use Qustodio to set up a screen time schedule, automatically blocking your kids’ devices at the times you set. We recommend scheduling a block from about an hour before your child goes to bed until the next morning. This way, they’ll find it much easier to wind down with offline activities like reading, and won’t be woken up in the night by notifications.
Your child gets distracted from their schoolwork
Do your kids find it difficult to finish their homework without checking social media? Have they opened YouTube for research, but gone down a rabbit hole of unrelated videos? The fact that technology is now such a huge part of many kids’ educations makes it frequently impossible to put a blanket ban on devices during homework time, leading to issues balancing screen time and learning.
However, parental controls can help your kids stay productive and focused when they need to. For example, Qustodio’s YouTube monitoring feature makes it easy for you to see exactly what your kids are watching – you can even watch any videos yourself – to make sure that they’re staying on topic. You can also block and set time limits for the games and apps they use, helping them manage their time better and reducing their risk of distraction.
Your child is starting to go out by themselves
Being allowed to meet friends or go to school without adult supervision is a big step in a child’s journey to independence. As a parent, it can be tricky to know when the time is right – and even if you know your child is ready, you’ll probably still feel some worry.
Parental controls can help give you peace of mind. Qustodio’s Family Locator allows you to save a list of places that your kids frequently visit. You’ll then receive notifications when they arrive at or leave those places – no more reminders for them to let you know when they’re on their way! You can also see a timeline of their location history and check their most recent location right on the map.
You’re worried your child has too much screen time
A little bit of screen time is not inherently bad, when it’s spent on positive content and used in moderation. However, spending too long on screens has been linked to a range of issues in children, such as lack of social skills, negative body image, and memory problems. Though there’s no definitive answer to how much screen time is too much, experts generally recommend a maximum of 2 hours a day for pre-teens, with decisions made on a case-by-case basis for teens.
Once you’ve decided how long you’re happy for your kids to spend online each day, using a parental control tool makes it much easier to enforce these limits. With Qustodio you can set daily time allowances throughout the week, and your kids’ devices are automatically blocked once they’ve used up all their screen time. These regular limits and automatic blocks make it much easier for your kids to create good habits – and helps you avoid the repeated requests for them to switch off.
How should I introduce parental controls?
So, you’ve decided that parental controls are right for your family. Is there anything you should do before setting them up? It’s always a good idea to sit down with your kids and talk about your decision. Some may be resistant at first, feeling like they’re being spied on, or that they’re the odd one out amongst their friends.
Highlighting the dangers that you’re worried about and explaining the reasons behind your choices will help them understand why parental controls are so important. It’s also a good idea to set boundaries together: creating a digital agreement, which everyone in the family contributes to, makes it a lot easier to come to decisions that everyone’s happy with, and therefore more likely to stick to.
All in all, parental controls are a great addition to any parent’s toolkit. Used alongside open conversation about how to stay safe online, they’re a great way to support your child in becoming a healthy digital citizen from the get go, and aid in any issues along the way.