Within a blink it appears 2018 is gone and 2019 is here...We are living in a digital era and connected homes, where children can’t afford to stay a day or a few hours without connecting to the world through the internet. As a matter of fact, children could be spending more time online than their parents. Well, the internet is awesome and your children will learn a lot. However, there are lots of unsafe and bad places online that children should never go. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to protect your children from two things; first, from themselves and two, from unsavoury sites.
As we continue to embrace technological advancement, children use many devices to connect and this might be a challenge for you to supervise them. Besides, parents have become busy these days as they try to make ends meet and therefore, no one could afford to stand over their children’s shoulder or stay in their bedrooms 24 hours a day seven days a week just to monitor what they do on the internet. If you are a parent that cares about your children, you don’t have to worry wondering how to monitor what they do with Smartphones, tablets or computers as there are different apps and routers designed for this purpose.
Are you surprised? Well, we are in the 21st century and the current technology doesn’t disappoint. Experts have designed digital parental control services that give you as a parent an ability to restrict your children from using risky applications and block limit screen time and unwanted web content. In other words, these services help to keep your children safer when they are on mobile devices and computers.
Basically, there are two ways that parents can digitally child-proof their homes. The first way is to set restrictions manually or configure a Wi-Fi router to create a field of force in your house and protect your children irrespective of whether they are watching TV or on the computer. The second way is to install software or app on every device and gain control of what your child does on the devices. While some of these services are purchased once, others require a monthly subscription. Either way, your child is very important and you should get your preferred service and have the ability to track online activities, set time limit on device usage, block naughty sites, set custom bedtimes, and turn off or pause the internet.
As a rule of thumb, talk to your children about your concerns. Tell them that the internet is good but it contains some stuff not good for the minor. Tell them that you’ll monitor their online actions and still respect their privacy. Most importantly, tell them to come to you in case they find anything online that makes them uncomfortable. Are you excited to know the different parental control apps and devices? Just relax and keep scrolling. But before we give you the list, let us examine the benefits of using them and what to consider before buying one.
Important Things To Consider While Choosing Parental Control System
Should Block Inappropriate Content
When children get access to an internet connected device, they can go anywhere they want or even unknowingly enter into sites they are not supposed to. With a parental control, you don’t have to scratch your head out wondering what your child is watching in real time because it filters online activity. In other words, it stops access to inappropriate content on the internet, for instance, pornographic materials and violence related videos or pictures. As a parent, therefore, you can take advantage of internet filtering controls and choose the one that can excellently block some of the sites you feel are unsuitable to your children thereby providing your children with a secure shield.
Ability To Block Apps
The current technology has a lot to offer and the good news is that safe browsing controls are available in different formats and if your child spends time with tablets, smartphones or computers, there’s system designed for that device as well. Interestingly, there are iPhone parental apps and android ones and after deploying them on your child’s phone, it is possible to block apps on the same phone. Therefore, choose parental control that can block apps to ensure that your children don’t access specific apps regardless of how long they spend on the internet.
Should Allow Spying On Instant Messaging Apps/ Social Media
As technology continues to advance, today’s generation is using messaging platforms such as Viber, WhatsApp, Facebook, MySpace, Facebook Messenger and even Twitter to communicate. Well, it goes without saying that you can monitor how your child talks to your friends when they pay him/her a visit at home, but what about the friends on social media? You can’t control that but luckily, you can use various parental controls to monitor whether your child shares inappropriate content with others or communicates with pedophiles. The internet filtering system you choose should allow you to track videos, text messages, images and other media files from instant messaging apps.
Location Tracking And Geo-Fencing Alert
The internet monitoring solution you choose shouldn’t only monitor what your child does while on the internet but also where they go. Well, many people may think that it is harsh to monitor where your kid goes but it’s equally important to know the location of your children in real time. For instance, if your child is supposed to be at home and you are in the office, you can tell if they are actually at home or not. Geofencing allows you to define the boundary you perceive as safe for your child and if that boundary is breached, you get an alert on your phone and you can take the necessary precaution.
After familiarising yourself with the basics of the systems, you’ll realise that some come with advanced features and you should choose such to blend in with the advancing technology. For instance, some monitoring devices (routers in some instances) and softwares have the ability to trace your kid’s Hulu and YouTube viewing history and this ensures that you are fully aware of what your children are busy watching. Other features can remotely lock down the device your child is using for diverting their attention. In simple terms, the more the features, the better the internet filtering system would be-so ensure the one you opt is worth your effort and money.
Ability To View Contact Book
Children have become smart these days and unless you’re smarter, you might never understand what happens in their world. Today’s kids have developed a strategy to save the numbers on their smartphone with different names to prevent their parents from doubting them as soon as they find names in the call logs. However, with parental control systems, you can view contact book and call logs in your child’s phone and this will give you an idea about the callers and the kind of friends your child constantly communicates with. We suggest you have a open communication with your children about monitoring their conversations as you would want their right to privacy taken into account.
Jargon Buster: Parental control, internet filtering, internet monitoring, content filtering and web child protection, web monitoring service are all used interchangeably across the internet causing confusion to parents. While some are software products, some are hardware and to make matters even more complicated some are features within the products themselves, but in the end all of them try to achieve the same objective — "Safe Internet Browsing Experience". We suggest you to look for features that achieve the objective of your family rather than worry about what they are called.
Benefits Of Parental Controls
Have you ever heard of cybercrime? Well, cybercrime is real and firms dedicated to cybercrime use ugly means to exploit the poor habits that people engage in while on the internet. According to experts, nearly 172 Billion was stolen hackers in 2017. You should never let your child or family be part of it. When children are growing, their brains develop constantly and due to their urge to learn new things, they might employ risky online behaviour such as disclosing their personal information and thus compromising their safety. However, you don’t have to worry anymore as parental control systems will definitely keep your child safe on the internet.
One question that gets asked on every parental forum is "how to set time limits on a wifi router?" More on that in the reviews section but It goes without saying that screen time is indeed very addictive. If an adult can spend the entire day glued to a screen, what about children? Well, a child can take even more time on the screen than an adult and this can lead to separation from the real world. Excessive screen time is a complete waste of time and can also lead to poor eyesight, bad posture, lack of physical activity, and inadequate sleep. As apparent, therefore, you can take advantage of the technological advancement and use systems to limit screen time and this will ensure your children enjoy a healthy lifestyle without polluted mind.
As children embrace the internet, most companies are also doing the same and can use it to judge your kid’s character. In other words, when your child starts using social media for instance without your supervision, he or she can do anything they feel like. When they become of age and start job hunting, the employer will know everything about them through Google search. They will know the kind of people they are and who they associate with and they will decide whether to hire them or not. With a parental control system, however, you don’t have to worry about your child’s behaviour in the social media as you can monitor what they do and in case you realise they are not doing what is right, you warn them or block those websites just for your child’s safety.
The Internet contains everything and your child might get access to things that are strictly forbidden for underage. Instead of denying your child the opportunity to connect with other people and gain knowledge from the internet, consider a system that does internet filtering, monitoring and allows controls that will provide a safer browsing experience. It will ensure that your child browses the internet without encountering unsavory sites. Besides, you should explain to them that the internet contains all sorts of things, good and bad and you have to block the bad ones to protect them because you care about them.
Editor's Note: Parental control is a holistic solution that provides a safe browsing experience to your family without unwanted and unsavoury site affecting you time on the internet. It can be implemented through hardware devices, software or superficially at a DNS level but we suggest ease of use should be your priority along with the features that are just right for your family.
Best Parental Control Devices Or Routers Money Can Buy
Now that you’ve already familiarized yourself with benefits of parental control systems as well as what you need to know before buying one, it's my hope that you have a picture at the back of your mind on how important they are to protect your child from unsavory websites. And so far so good, we will represent a list of these software and routers in the market today to help you make an informed decision on what to try out and keep your child in control.
As people continue to access internet from myriad of devices, having a monitoring system that only runs on a family’s personal computer is useless because children can take your phone when you’re busy watching your favourite game or when in the kitchen. Fortunately, Qustodio’s support for iOS, Kindle devices, Windows, Android and Mac is notable. It prides itself with every exceptional feature every parent could be looking for such as a robust app blocking, web content filtering, and a detailed activity log. Monitoring and configuration are done through the parent app or Qustodio’s online dashboard and from there, you can comfortably set rules and view what kind of activity your child engages in from practically anywhere.
- Time scheduler for device, internet and application usage
- Can locate location
- Cross-platform support
- It's expensive
- Can only track Facebook so you won’t track your child’s activities on other social media sites
- Limited iOS features
In today’s generation, buying a smartphone to your children is just like buying them a toy and as much as you can track their activities on their devices, what will happen when they opt to use laptop or PC? Well, it’s without a doubt that they will get access to unsavoury sites and because you want to avoid such, you might consider net nanny software. It tracks and protects your kids across all your Android, Mac, Windows and to some extent iPads and iPhones. Net nanny boasts internet time scheduling functionality and exceptional web filtering abilities and is definitely worth a trial.
- Can excellently support Android, Mac and Windows
- Comes with an amazing filtering abilities
- You can set how long you want your child to browse
- Ability to block sites unsuitable for children
- Limited iOS features
- It’s outdated
- No ability to track the location
Symantec Norton Family Premier
Symantec Norton Family Premier gives you an opportunity to engage with your children and encourage them on the pros and cons of the internet and the rules you have put in place for their own safety. Norton supervises unlimited devices hence perfect for a large family and lets you monitor what your children are doing while on the internet. Norton also prides itself with time usage restrictions, web filtering, and tracking location features.
- It’s very affordable
- Control settings on all connected devices
- Can track location to know where your child is in real time
- Effective in an unlimited number of devices
- No trial version
- Web extension can be disabled easily
- Not compatible with Macs
- Poor in tracking social media
Kaspersky Safe Kids
When kids get home from school, the first thing they do is to sit on the couch with their mobile or head to the study room to play their favorite games on the desktop or chat with their friends on social media. With most cheap parental control solutions, it’s not easy to monitor your child’s digital activity on these devices but Kaspersky Safe Kids offers diverse options as it works well on iOS, Android, and PCs. To make it even better, you can install it on all the devices in your house regardless of their number and the software comes with amazing features such as location monitoring, app blocking, time management, and web filtering. It is quick and easy to install so what are you waiting for? Purchase it today and install to protect your children from unsuitable web content.
- It’s very affordable
- Used on an unlimited number of devices
- Quick and easy to install
- Location monitoring
- Web filtering ability
- iOS limitations
- Poor web interface
- Can only filter limited content based on specific browsers
Circle With Disney
In the world we are living in today, it would be overwhelming to install parental control software on every device in your home that a child might use. But given that the experts want to make everything easy, parents can now control their kid’s digital activities without necessarily installing any software.
Circle with Disney is a standalone box that you install on your network and you can create your family members’ profile while considering the age-appropriate filter. It prides itself with the ability to manage all the devices on your network and can successfully filter out unwanted content, set bedtimes, and turn off or pause the internet for your kids. Disney Circle is a great catch because you only buy once and you’ll use it as much as you want without any monthly subscription.
- Handles all the devices in your network
- Setting up is very easy without technical knowledge required
- Has the ability to filter out content
- You can pause the internet when you don’t want them to be digitally active
- It’s very expensive
- Has only minimal reporting hence might not be as effective as you want
- Matching the names of your family members on the device is not a walk in the park
- May have frightening error messages on the browser
The Clean Router is a complete Wi-Fi parental control router which plugs straight into your modem. Once set up, it covers all the devices in your home all the time regardless of their number. A clean router puts your internet filtering on your palms as it can filter sites in different categories such as;
- Guns, weapons, and violence
- Art nudes
- Nude lifestyle
To make it even better, clean router filters YouTube and blocks websites by filters. It is actually one of the best parental control routers you can have around as it ensures your children browse the internet as much as they want without encountering any unsuitable contents, especially on nudity.
- Takes control of any device on your network
- Gives you a report of all the website your kid visits and the ones blocked successfully
- Ensures your kids are safe while on the internet
- It cannot identify the activity by users
Parenting in the digital age is not always a walk in the park and as you might think the parental control program in your family’s computer is enough to monitor your children, you can be surprised to learn that they use your Smartphone or laptop to access unsuitable content. With that in mind, you need a program that can monitor your kid’s activities remotely, and choosing Mobicip which you can install on as many as five devices might be a viable option. It supports Android, iOS, Windows, Chromebook, Mac, Kindle and Nook.
- Online setup and management
- Excellent in filtering out content
- Works on Smartphone which most kids are fond of
- Can apply the profiles of your children to different devices
- Doesn’t notify parents what their children are doing in real time
- Linked to communication problems especially when setting up
If you want a product that can filter out dangerous and nasty websites at a higher level without need for a dedicated internet monitoring and filtering solution SafeDNS might just be what you need. SafeDNS has the ability to filter content that’s illegal and adult-related websites for all the devices connected to your router and you’ll be assured that whatever your kids are busy doing on the connected devices is good for their brain and development.
- Filters unsuitable sites on any device connected on your home network
- Will give you a report of the sites your kid visits
- Comes with time scheduling profiles
- Gives falsified reports on the sites accessed
Koala Safe Router
Koala Safe tackles safe browsing experience in a unique way in that it is plugged into your Wi-Fi router and provides a child-friendly wireless network at home. It allows your kids to be digitally active without having nothing to worry about that they might encounter unsuitable content. With Koala Safe, you can create individual profiles where you set user controls such as usage report and time limits, and at the same time block unsavory sites. Interestingly, you only buy Koala Safe once and you are sorted all your life because it doesn’t require a monthly subscription. Thanks to its usage monitoring, you can show your kids how much time they spend on the internet and the sites they visit often and talk to them in case you want them to adjust.
- You can block entire categories like social media or videos
- You can block the internet by time
- Doesn’t require monthly subscriptions
- Easy to setup
- Doesn’t give accurate reports on your kid’s digital activity
Every parent desires to protect their children from all sorts of uncertainty. Just like the way you force your children to put on a helmet when biking to protect them, you should equally protect them from accessing unsuitable content on the internet. Without a doubt, the internet is awesome and could offer the best learning materials for your children. However, the same internet could be dangerous as children can access unsavoury sites that could be dangerous and given that you can’t physically monitor their every move 24/4, you can appreciate the technological advancement and purchase parental control device you see fit, based on the features and cost. If you’ve been wondering what could be the most appropriate parental control system to have at home, we hope we have made things easier for you and you can choose from the above list.
Disclaimer: Effective Internet Filtering and Parental Control provides a safe browsing experience to your loved ones. However, as with all technology, there is always a thin line between effective monitoring and excessive control affecting your children's privacy. Please have an open conversation with your children, engage with them and explain it before implementing any controls in your household.