Opinion: Kids may be device wizards, but we can still keep them safe

Do you ever feel like your kids know more than you do about how to navigate around on Smart devices? We can’t monitor our children’s every move online, but Internet parental controls are an easy way for parents to make sure their kids stay safe while they’re streaming, gaming, scrolling or chatting.

As our use of the Internet and the modes we use to access it have evolved, so have parental controls. Here are six tips for making the most of parental controls available for every Internet-connected device in your home:

  1. Setting up parental controls is not hard. Whether your kids are playing with IOS, Android or Windows devices, the parental controls for each environment are a simple, step-by-step process.
  2. Create a “white list” for kids younger than 5. Children age 5 or younger can and are navigating the Internet and tech devices very quickly and with ease nowadays. Choose a handful of sites you’re comfortable with and make those the only ones accessible on the device your kid uses.
  3. Use Family Sharing to limit how much time your children spend online. On iPhones, especially, you have the power to set your child up on Family Sharing, and then set rules on your kids’ iPhone usage. Your Internet service provider also may have parental controls included in your subscription, which can help you restrict and monitor the time kids spend online while they are home.
  4. Remember how many ways kids can access the Internet. Use resources such as Internet Matters to figure out which devices and online accounts you can set parental controls on, and go from there.
  5. Make controls on YouTube a priority. Use YouTube’s parental controls to set your account to “Restricted Mode,” even if you use YouTube Kids, so your kids won’t run the risk of viewing disturbing content when searching for clips of their favorite shows.
  6. Don’t forget their email or social media accounts.Make sure you have access to your minor child’s accounts (usernames and passwords), and regularly monitor their interactions if possible. Otherwise, consider blocking a social media site or deleting an email account if you’re truly worried.

Most importantly, know what parental controls can and can’t do. Parental controls can control how much time your kid spends online using devices you and your family own, which online games your child can access, filter browsers so your children can only access pre-approved websites, prevent children from using certain devices, limit what children can search for online and manage the types of videos that are searchable online. Parental controls cannot control who reaches out to your children on their own social media channels or what photos children view on their own social media channels if those websites are not blocked, or you do not have access to their accounts.

Susan Anable is Cox Communications Vice President of Public Affairs, Southwest Region, a mother of two and an advocate for keeping children safe on their Internet-connected devices.   

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