Parental control: how to ensure a safe environment for your children on the internet

Entertainment with modern devices (smartphones, tablets, PCs, game consoles …) is not something to be criminalized in and of itself, because, as in all things, a conscious and appropriate use, takes away from the risk of addiction and isolation. In fact, children are now “digital natives”, that is, from birth they are immersed in a world in which technology cannot be done without.

It is therefore necessary to take note of these innovations and make the best use of them, taking advantage of the educational implications they have, while being aware of the risks they may incur. Therefore, the relationship between children and technology is not necessarily a negative relationship, it depends on the use that is made of these tools. We must offer them the opportunity to do this experience as well, but at the same time give them precise limits and boundaries regarding time and use.

Children are immediately attracted to technology also because they imitate parents in the use of these devices. For this reason, it is very important that adults constantly support their children while they play with tablets or smartphones, avoiding, first of all, free Internet browsing. Parents have the task of controlling the use that children make of touch-screen devices to avoid overexposures which, in the long run, can lead to behavioral and relational difficulties. They need to do some action, such as applying YouTube Parental Controls.

Studies show that excessive use of these objects can lead to: hyperactivity, sleep disturbances, lack of concentration, mood disturbances, the regulation of emotions and the child’s estrangement from social relationships to the detriment of his communication skills. For adolescents, the risk of isolation is greater: in the last period, the phenomenon of hikikomori is spreading, boys, mainly male, who give up school attendance to devote themselves exclusively to virtual reality, confusing the day with the night.

In this way they lose any kind of real human contact with peers and family, suffering from depression and easy irritability. In order to avoid falling into pathological situations, we always invite families to have a good dialogue with their children, offering them moments of social interaction and emotional exchanges.

From the physical point of view, however, both in children and adolescents, there is an increase in visual disturbances and pains in the back and neck due to incorrect posture. So it is essential that the time dedicated is limited, that the use of Apps and games (suitable for age) can be a reason for interaction between the child and the parent figure and that it is not used to “keep good” the child while mom and dad do something else. Adults – parents, teachers, educators – can guide children in discovering the digital world and in learning new things, but with awareness and responsibility. The choice of the most age-appropriate Apps is essential, which can also involve children on an educational level, without making them passive in front of the screen.

Everyone knows the questions. Can you control what they access on the internet? What is the ideal age for your child to have a cell phone? Are online games really a threat to children? To what extent is it possible to interfere when it comes to freedom on the net? The difficult thing is to find precise answers to these doubts … A controling app allows parents to set digital rules for their children, such as setting time limits for the screen, setting bedtime, blocking devices remotely and issuing warnings when the child does something wrong. Parent need to know how to put parental controls on YouTube, for example.

According to a CyberHandbook survey, about 80% of parents do not know what their children access on the internet. And the dangers? Those are many. Pedophilia, extortion and cyberbullyng cases are the most worrying. Apart from the inappropriate content for the child’s age group and even macabre games, such as the Blue Whale game, which became known for proposing several dangerous challenges until it reached the last phase in which it encouraged suicide.

If the problems are big, the good news is that today there are several parental control tools. Giants like Apple and Microsoft already have settings on their own platform that ensure safety for children. The Mac Parental Control Panel helps you monitor content and applications for a specific user. In terms of time and usage, this is a great tool to limit your kids’ access to the internet. You can configure filters, in addition to limiting the transaction of emails and messages from iChat. Windows has a program called Windows Family Safety, which is a tool used to keep your child away from inappropriate online content. You can add and remove specific sites and define levels of filtering.

McAfee, a maker of security tools, also has an interesting proposition. It developed Macfee Safe Eyes that works for both Mac and Windows. With the application, you can block websites, videos and limit the use of social networks.

But, what if you still encounter a problem? What to do? Virtual crimes happen daily and the number of new cases has grown.

Despite the challenging scenario, there is more good news in this story: even the youngest generations have realized the importance of being protected in the virtual world.

The final chapter everyone may already know: the key to any good relationship is in communication. But, as we’re here to help, it doesn’t hurt to remember the tools we’ve already talked about, like Google’s FamilyLink app, the McAfee Safe Eyes program and the features of Windows and MAC itself. And there are more tips!

The Playstation has settings for parental control that restricts the age range in games, sets monthly consumption limits and even controls communication with other players.

It has many apps for IOS and Android systems. Some examples: the FamiSafe Kid Control app allows you to have real-time GPS location tracking.

NetNanny is very popular. It issues customized alerts and notifications and provides an excellent social media monitoring tool. And then there’s Screen Time, an app where parents can take an instant break to lock a device and approve apps before their kids install.

In the end, the above applications are very useful to ensure the safety of children when they surf the Internet.

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