With kids as young as six stumbling onto porn sites and teenage victims of cyberbullying committing suicide, the question of using parental controls to monitor online activity is simply a matter of when, not if. Even so, setting up these controls on your kids’ devices can feel a bit like spying, and some children may perceive this honest attempt to keep them safe on the Web as a breach of trust. We often hear from parents who know that the time has come to set some boundaries for their children’s online behaviors but don’t know how to approach their kids with the idea. Here’s our advice:
Talk to them first
While you certainly don’t need your child’s permission to download parental monitoring software on their PCs, tablets, and Smartphones, it’s a good idea to tell them about your plans before you actually do it. They’ll likely be a lot more receptive to the idea if they don’t feel as if you’re sneaking up on them.
Many parents feel the need to set up parental controls not because they don’t trust their kids, but because they don’t trust the rest of the virtual population. If that’s the case for you, be sure to tell your child this. Let him or her know that it’s not about spying; it’s about making sure that they can enjoy all the great things about the Internet without running into trouble.
While many kids won’t object to parental controls, especially if you approach them about it openly, others will put up a fight. They may try to convince you that they know how to avoid the dangerous content on the web. Be firm in your decision to do everything in your power to keep your child out of harm’s way on the Internet. Let them know that it is not up for negotiation.
After you’ve explained all of the above to your child, resolve to keep the conversation going. This may be your first discussion about Internet safety, but it shouldn’t be your last. Talk to your child regularly about their online activities and let them know that they can come to you if they ever feel confused or uncomfortable about something they encounter online.
Have you installed parental controls on your child’s devices? If so, share your advice with other parents in the comments section.