Well before the surge of smartphones and mobile apps, and even before the age of the Internet in the nineties, keeping your children safe was a major responsibility, but it was pretty straightforward compared to how it is now. Back in the day, you told your children not to talk to strangers or take gifts from them. Children were also advised never to get into a car with some they did not know, not to give their address or telephone numbers to strangers, and to always travel in pairs or groups to places. In addition to teaching their kids safety tips, parents also took active measures to guard their children, such as physically watching their kids while they played outside, and not letting them go off by themselves in crowded places like malls.Today, however, there’s another dimension where parents must also take precaution to shield their kids from danger: the Web. In addition to protecting their kids in the physical world, parents must also keep them from harm in the online world. Unfortunately, achieving effective online safety
is not as simple as it is offline. There’s an endless number of websites that kids frequent that can expose them to danger. These include chat rooms, interactive games, and social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. On the surface, these sites appear to pose no harm. After all, they’re completely online, and your child can interact with people on these sites in the safety of their home where you as a parent can keep your eye on them. But the reality is that there are predators who are skilled at conning people online, and many of them like to make innocent and naïve groups like children their targets. Their interaction may start online, but if predators continue their virtual relationship with children, then it’s just a matter of time before children trust these violators enough to meet them in person or share information with them that can lead to physical danger. Making this issue even more complex is that kids may visit so many of these websites in a day or week that it becomes impossible for parents to keep up with their activity, especially if there is more than one child and the children visit these sites outside of the home without the parents’ knowledge. In addition, kids who like to fiercely guard their privacy or have something to hide can conceal their online activity with apps specifically designed to disguise secret activity. There are apps that have screen icons that look like those of audio or calculator apps. But when these icons are selected, they can immediately hide photos, messages, or any data behind a fake screen resembling a calculator or something ordinary.So with all of these hidden dangers on websites and apps, what can parents do to take charge and protect their kids from harm online? Luckily, businesses and technologies have kept up with the evolution of online threats, developing programs that arm parents with tools and safeguards to monitor and control their children’s online activity. Here are four apps currently on the market and details on what they offer.
Providing online parental control services since 1996, Net Nanny offers supervision packages that support Windows, Android, Mac, and iOS platforms. One of Net Nanny’s standout features is its dynamic Internet filter that actively scans and evaluates websites in real time, either allowing or blocking access to those sites based on the parent’s specified preferences. This app also offers specialized capabilities, such as the blocking of pornography sites and the ability to block out profanity on allowed sites. In addition to essential features like time management to suspend Internet surfing during certain times of the day and email alerts notifying parents of when their child visits unsuitable sites or is contacted by a dangerous individual, Net Nanny provides remote management. With remote management, parents can perform tasks like viewing activity reports and modifying children’s profile settings from any Internet-connected device anywhere.
Norton Family Premier
The Norton Family Premier parental control app aims to help parents manage and balance the time their children spend on the Internet while keeping them safe. Time management features include the ability to set time limits for online browsing on PC and Android devices. There’s also search supervision that allows parents to view their child’s online search history on PC and iOS devices, enabling parents to view keywords and terms their kids search for on the ‘Net. Available on PCs is the ability to survey children’s social media activity, including how often they login to their Facebook accounts from a PC, as well as their provided profile names and ages.Parents can also monitor activity through detailed monthly and weekly reports that are sent to their inboxes, along with email alerts that inform parents of when their children try to visit blocked sites. Other valuable features available include video supervision to view YouTube videos watched on iOS and PC devices, location tracking for mobile devices, text message and app usage monitoring on Android devices, and much more.
Qustodio is an expansive application offering various types of parental control plans across multiple platforms including Android, iOS, Kindle, Windows, and Mac. This application arms parents with protective features like smart filters that can block inappropriate content in both regular and private browsing modes, as well as time limit restrictions across all of a child’s devices. Parents are also equipped with tools to help oversee and control social media, game, and app usage. Monitoring of time spent on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, and Twitter is available, and so is the capability to apply time limits and blocks for applications. With Qustodio, parents are can also keep an eye on their children’s phone calls, text messages, and blocked contacts. More features that parents can take advantage of include location tracking on Android and iOS devices, and also a panic button that allows children to call for help in emergencies.
SaferKid takes a multi-faceted approach to online protection for children on mobile phones and tablets by offering three programs in one package: SaferText, Parental Super Powers, and Safety Alert. With SaferText, parents can access their children’s mobile device history for text messages, phone calls, and Internet surfing. The Parental Super Powers component enables parents to automatically block websites featuring adult content; it also allows for the enabling and disabling of applications for a period of time specified by the parent. Lastly, parents can stay abreast of dangers
out on the Web with SaferAlert. SaferAlert notifies parents of applications that pose sexting and bullying risks, provide means of secretly meeting with strangers, and feature violent content not suitable for children.
Learn More About Online Dangers
While the Web offers tons of capabilities and conveniences that make tasks in life easier, it also has a lot of hidden channels where danger can lurk if one is not careful. Learn about the dark places of the Internet that should be avoided or navigated through with caution by taking courses from Cybrary’s vast catalog of cybersecurity classes: