Learn More About Parental Control Apps

“Parental control app” is a pretty vague term. So it makes sense if you’re a little shaky when it comes to what it means, exactly. What do parental control apps actually do?

A Way to Follow Your Child’s Online Habits

Most parental control apps offer the ability to track your child’s internet habits in some way or another on a chosen device. Traditionally, this at least includes information about your child’s internet search and browsing history, which the app might measure through the preexisting internet browsers on a child’s phone or through its own internet browser.

Depending on the parental control app, this effect can be pretty significant or relatively minor. Some parental control apps allow you to block certain websites or pages, block a child from using the internet during certain times, or require a child to obtain your permission before visiting new sites. On the other hand, some apps simply monitor a child’s use.

Content Moderation and Constraints

Parental control apps commonly offer an option for parents to enforce content moderation of some kind on a child’s phone. Some of this uses built-in software; Apple, for instance, has built-in family sharing options for downloading new apps. The parents can require that a child send a request to the parent’s phone to download a new app. The parent can approve or deny the request remotely.

If you’re using a third-party app, you might be able to access additional options that the manufacturer didn’t include on the phone. That might include information about how long your child uses different apps, blacklisting of certain apps at certain times, and even complete shutdown for a phone at night. It depends on the app.

Other Uses

On top of these options, different parental control apps, of course, offer additional benefits and options. Some, for example, include keyboard tracking software that can track what your child types, copies, cuts and pastes. Some automatically upload photos to the cloud so that you can see these pictures even if the child deletes them.

Many parents use these additional uses as the main way to decide which parental control app to buy. Because parental control apps can be somewhat expensive, the additional benefits are often the main thing that separates similar apps from each other. If you want a specific feature, you may need to look through a variety of apps to find one that has it.

Do Parental Control Apps Work?

It’s clear that parental control apps do restrict a phone’s browsing pretty significantly. But one question that many parents don’t investigate with enough thought is whether these parental control apps have their desired effect.

A Potential to Circumvent the Apps

Sometimes being too overbearing can actually have the opposite effect of what you intend. A child can circumvent mast any security procedure, given enough time and thought. For example, your child might just decide to use a friend’s phone in order to browse the internet and play games. Even with as many anti-tampering protocols as many parental control apps have, you can’t completely control your child.

A bigger problem with this is that kids can get very, very good at lying this way, which is especially unfortunate because in the grand scheme of things, it’s a pretty small thing to lie about. But when a child gets enough practice lying about how much he or she played on a phone, that same child can then lie about more important things.

Communication Breakdowns

No parent can deny that it’s difficult to communicate with kids at the best of times. Some of this is just normal teenage difficulties, and you can’t expect your child to be best friends with you all the time. But your child should still be able to come to you with questions and concerns. If you present yourself as being very tough on your child, the chances of your child asking you for help become lower.

Obviously you don’t want to just let your child run rampant on Facebook at age 12, but communication is much more important than simply not allowing your child to do anything alone. Many parents start installing these apps around 12-13 when a child starts engaging with the internet more often. But this is also around the time when children start going through really difficult stages of life. It’s arguably one of the most important times during which your kids should feel comfortable talking to you.

An Issue With Security Later in Life

The desire to keep your child safe is admirable, but parents have to allow kids to learn at some point. A big problem that plagues kids with very protective parents is a sense of dependency. When your child moves into high school and beyond, he or she is going to have to start engaging with security on a much more independent level.

Rather than simply locking down anything that you worry about even slightly, instead consider discussing security with your child. Especially as your kid gets older, a thorough understanding of online and offline security can really do wonders. It’s much more effective than a nanny app that keeps kids safe but defenseless.

How Else Can I Help My Child With Safety?

No matter how you choose to use parental control apps, it shouldn’t be the end of the road. You should also employ other tactics when it comes to your child’s physical and virtual safety.

Always Leave Communication Open

You have a lot of life experience that can really help your children if you’re able to transfer it. The best way to do that isn’t to try and force your children to develop in a certain way; it’s to transfer your experience in the most natural way possible. Just leave communication open and make sure your children know that it’s okay for them to talk to you about whatever they have issues with.

This can feel like you’re not really helping with the safety aspect. But if your kids feel comfortable around you, they’re more likely to ask you for help getting through safety and security concerns like bullying, social media, and other issues both online and offline.

Teach Safety Early On

You don’t have to make sure that your five-year-old knows how to create a strong password. Simple safety lessons can still go a long way. Just like you teach your toddler not to walk into traffic, you can teach your kids to stay safe in everyday life.

For example, if your child is having a problem with bullying at kindergarten, you can sit down and work through the problem together. Even at a young age, your child learns that there’s an effective way to work through these kinds of problems and can employ that same concept in the future with other issues.

Keep an Eye on Other Adults With PeopleFinders

You can definitely be a part of your child’s security and safety even if a lot of it is just teaching by example. A great way to maintain safety and security for your child is to use PeopleFinders to check on adults with whom your child interacts regularly.

Whether it’s someone who lives nearby, another child’s parents, or just someone who visits the neighborhood regularly, you can use PeopleFinders to perform a background check on them...or one of millions of other American adults across the country. Learning more about what may exist in a person’s public records is just one way you can stand up for your child and ensure your child’s safety without being overbearing or too protective.

What Are Parental Control Apps?