A child no older than ten years old having their own mobile devices is no longer as rare as it used to be. In fact, it has already become the norm for years now. We are currently living in the generation of smartphones and internet. It’s just natural that our kids grow up with gadgets as a part of their daily lives. However, with the advancement of today’s technology also comes the development of different kinds of danger that your children could be vulnerable to.
Should you monitor your children’s phone activity?
If your child is a minor who’s still pretty new to the ways of the internet, then absolutely yes! This could be a way for you to keep them safe and guarded from all the potential risks that they could encounter while using their phones. This could help you control what they see on their screens, monitor who they’re talking to, and supervise what they’re up to with their devices. If you’re wondering how, well, there’s a plethora of apps and programs out there that offer extensive and easy-to-use parental control options. However, if your child is… not much of a child anymore, then I suggest you talk it out with them first. Teenagers may not take intrusion of their privacy well. They might see you as overbearing and controlling for it. If that’s the scenario, then a good talk about what they should or shouldn’t do online could be enough to do the trick.
As a parent, it is your duty to prevent your kids from being vulnerable to all kinds of threat that exposure to phones and the internet poses. Below are all the tips and tricks that you need in order protect your kids effectively online. Just read on to find out everything you need to know.
Why should you monitor your child’s phone activity?
Although children having their own phones have proved to be quite beneficial in terms of communication, one can’t deny that it also has the potential to be a gateway to all sorts of negative influences. Here are some examples of what they could be exposed to when they’re on their phones:
Of course, pornography is number one on the list. Mobile phone gives your children access to the internet, and the internet is home to all sorts of NSFW content. Suggestive pictures, erotic videos, lewd audios, smutty works of literature, you name it! With a phone in hand, all of these are just one incognito mode and a search button away. You never know when your kid’s curiosity might get the best of them.
Pornography isn’t the only “adult” content that they could be exposed to. Other examples of debauchery on the internet are displays of ill behavior such as: smoking cigarettes, doing drugs, or drinking alcohol. Sometimes, they’ll even find these things disguised as an “aesthetic” Tumblr post with a lyric overlay and a faded filter. The point is, things like this have become so normalized on the internet that a frequent exposure to them are almost a given. This could give your child the wrong impression towards such habits. They might think of it as a key to being “cool” and “edgy”. Little by little, they might be encouraged to go down the same path and try it out for themselves, which is exactly what you are trying to avoid.
When we say predators, it means the scammers or pedophile who could try to contact your child without you knowing. It’s easier for these kinds of people to get to your kid by sliding into their inbox right under your nose. The predators could then use this opportunity to manipulate your children into doing their own bidding, whatever that may be. They could trick your kid into giving away their personal information or whereabouts. They could also extort them into doing things that you’d rather not have them doing. This puts your children on a whole other level of danger, not only online but also offline.
Profanity and sarcasm is the language of the internet. There’s not a day that I log in on my social media accounts and scroll through my timeline that I come across at least a single curse word on every other post. Offensive slangs have also already become a part of my daily social media experience. It’s good if your child knows the weight of these hurtful words and knows how to deal with them accordingly. However, if your child is impressionable, then don’t be surprised if you suddenly find their vocabulary being a bit more colorful than usual.
All things given are just some of the dangers that your child could encounter on their phone journey. They’re not all of it. Believe me, there’s a whole lot more. In fact, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. And if that doesn’t convince you to monitor you child’s phone activity, then I don’t know what will.
How do I monitor my child’s phone activity?
There are a variety of apps out there that could help you monitor your children’s phone activity. Here are some of them:
This app is a holy grail for a lot of parents out there because it lets you monitor almost everything that your kids could ever do or have in their phone: their calls, their texts, their contacts, their location, basically everything! On top of that, it’s simple but sophisticated interface design also makes it easier for beginners to use. There’s a reason why it’s hailed as the most used phone tracking app all over the world.
- The Phone Sheriff
Just like the first one, this app lets you monitor a plethora of things from your kid’s phone. But what makes this app special is that it also lets you control your child’s phone time. It could give you the power to shut their phones down and lock it whenever you want to. No phones when they’re studying? No phones until after they finish their homework? No phones past their bedtime? It’s all up to you! All of these are just one click away with The Phone Sheriff.
Now this one is less of a tracking app and more of a blocking app. It lets you block anything that you don’t want to belong on your child’s online experience. ANYTHING. From online shopping and paid apps to dating sites or NSFW blogs. This way, you can make sure that your kid has absolutely no access to the bad side of the internet, while still giving them their privacy.
- Net Nanny
Net Nanny, doesn’t have as many tracking and blocking features as all the other apps mentioned. However, what little it does, it does very well. Net Nanny has a highly impressive and effective pornography blocker. It does more than just deny your kid an access to inappropriate websites, it also prevents them from encountering racy ads or images in websites that are deemed “safe”. Sometimes, a naughty picture just manages to slip its way past numerous security filters in sites that are dubbed as family-friendly. Luckily for you, with Net Nanny, you wouldn’t have to worry about that anymore. Another one if its features is “profanity masking”. With this, every swear word and offensive slangs that they come across on the internet gets censored. The censoring also goes both ways. Meaning, Net Nanny would also prohibit your child from virtually cussing.
How can your child stay safe on their own?
It’s important to keep in mind that monitoring your kid’s phone activity should be nothing more than a temporary measure. It should only be for minors who still don’t have the proper netiquette. This must not continue to go on until their late teen years, for privacy issues.
The long-term solution would be to teach them how to properly behave while on their phones. The following are some tips that you could give your son or daughter the minute they get their own phone:
Think before you click.
An age old advice that still rings the truth. It’s important that they apply this advice before doing anything on their phones. Sending a risky text? Think about it first. Posting a status? Think about it first. Sharing certain content? Think about it first. Visiting a suspicious website? Think about it first. Talking to a random stranger? Think about it first. Tell them to always be mindful of their actions, because once they’ve already done it, there’s no turning back from it anymore.
Report, then block.
If they ever come across anything that they don’t want, there’s always an option for them to report it and block it. Whether it’s a post that they find offensive, or a certain user that they want nothing to do with, the best course of action to get rid of it is to just click the button and go.
Don’t talk to strangers.
This is the first advice that we give our children to protect from harm in the real world, but it could also be applicable for the cyber world. They must not, in any way, engage with someone that they’re unfamiliar with when they’re online. It’s easy to fake a personality online. Someone who seems okay and trustworthy on screen could be a deceptive predator behind it. If a stranger ever contacts them, go back to the previous advice.
If anything bad happens, go to a trusted adult.
Make sure to assure your kids that if anything ever goes south, they can always go to you. Don’t ever make them feel afraid that you’re going to judge them or reprimand them when things go bad. That would just make them more closed off and hesitant to come to you. Be open to them and remind them that, more than anything, you two are a team and you’ll always be there no matter what happens.
The best way to protect your children from any online dangers is to educate them and watch them pave their own way towards media and information literacy. Think of monitoring their online activity as a training wheels moment of some sort. It’s just there to guide them while their still learning, but it’s never meant to stay there forever. At some point, you’d have to let go and let them handle the wheel on their own.