Parental controls – ‘A kid’s worst nightmare?’ OR ‘A parent’s perfect dream?’

What are Parental Controls?

Parental controls are software and tools that allow parents to set controls on their children’s devices. They can prevent children accessing content that isn’t suitable for their age or to ensure that only approved apps can be installed on a child’s device.

There are various ways parents can control their children’s device:

  1. Application controls – these are set on certain apps which disable a child’s use of them. These controls may be on YouTube, Instagram…etc. Another use of this is on phones, which could disable children from downloading any apps, without parents allowing it. 
  2. Website Filter restrictions – these are restrictions which filter and block content which may be inappropriate for their age, for example, violence.  There are lots of categories to block or allow, here’s a typical list of categories that can be blocked by parents.
  3. Screen time limits – can be set on devices  such as a phone or even laptops. They will limit time spent on that device and apply regardless of how and where the device is connected to the internet. This can also control the time of day that children can access the internet or certain applications.

Why add parental controls?

As I have various parental controls, set by my dad, I asked him why he decided to add them:

I think there are so many (better) ways to use your time. I wanted you to have the opportunity to discover things other than social media...
My Dad

Wondering how to add parental controls?

If your child/yourself use an iPhone or Android device and would like to know more about adding parental controls, please click on the links below:

Apple: https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT201304
Android:  https://families.google.com/intl/en_uk/familylink/

My experience:

I have the following restrictions on my devices:

  • Screen time limits with only 30 minutes allowed for all apps except educational and informational apps. (Although these can be negotiated at times). 😊
  • Laptop website restrictions. These have sometimes hindered my research. When recently investigating the effects of chemicals in cigarettes as mutagens, I was blocked from doing so. A red traffic light appeared on my internet browser preventing me from further researching. Due to my search matching a ‘forbidden category’ chosen by my father.

My overall opinion on parental controls:

I therefore understand how frustrating it feels to be unable to go on apps like Instagram, TikTok and YouTube for no longer than a combined time of 30 minutes. I am certain that in the perspective of many other teenagers, having parental controls on social media can feel isolating. Of course, it is also maddening! When your friend has sent you a message, you are in the middle of typing back, and then your time limit appears, so you are no longer able to answer back. It is also slightly embarrassing when you tell them the next morning, “Sorry I had a time limit that my dad put on for Snapchat, “

Nevertheless, I would strongly argue, that although they can be frustrating, parental controls will positively impact us in the future. If we can no longer access apps for entertainment, what other alternatives will we have? Most likely, we will spend more time with our families, dance, revise or exercise. All of these will give us skills or improve our well-being and bring us out of our ‘little bubble’.

In my case, after reducing my screen time, I have truly realised how much time I have emptied. All of sudden I have time for that planned revision TODAY, not tomorrow. My previous average time per day, would end up exceeding 4 hours, however now it will only reach a maximum of 2 hours. This per week has given me 14 extra hours, which I have been able to spend studying languages, going on runs with my dog or playing darts with my brother. It’s worth noting that:

If we spend on average 2 hours a day, every day, for a year it is approximately 1 month spent on our phones. For a current average life span of 81 years in England, this means approximately 7 WHOLE YEARS spent on our phones alone.

References: https://parentinfo.org/article/what-are-parental-controls-and-how-can-they-help-children-stay-safe-online

Image by David Bruyland from Pixabay

Do you have any experience of Parental Controls? Do they help or hinder? Perhaps you are a parent and considering setting up Parental Controls? Or maybe you once had parental controls set up on your device but you’ve managed to find ways to get around the restrictions? We’d love to hear from you!

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