Overview: Even the best kids may try to get around parental controls. Be sure kids understand why the rules are in place, that you use strong passwords and PIN numbers and multiple levels of security, and implement strong parental control software.
1. Explain The Rules
Rules that seem arbitrary or unjustified are more likely to be ignored. We’ve all experienced this in our own lives, and kids are no different. It’s important that families have clear discussions of why the rules are in place.
Sit down with your kids and discuss potential online risks, the concerns you have, and why the rules are in place. Make it clear that rules can have exceptions, and kids should come to you about them. For example, if they want to spend their allowance on an in-game purchase, they should be able to ask you about it. And leave flexibility for the rules to change over time; as kids grow up, they’ll need to use apps for their jobs, to interact with friends, and to do homework.
It’s also important to model good behavior. If you’re honest with them, they’ll be more likely to be honest with you.
2. Create Multiple Layers of Security
Good security starts with layers. Devices generally have three you can use: Operating-system level controls, individual app controls, and third-party parental control software.
- Configure the operating system to block or limit actions like in-app purchases, or downloading or uninstalling apps without your permission. Thwarting some of these precautions can really be as simple as deleting an app, so buy a device that helps prevent this.
- On individual apps, such as app stores, go into the settings and configure them to keep data private, to block purchases without a password, and other steps. Set any emails to ones you regularly check so you’ll receive alerts.
- On apps that allow it, create an “admin” account that gives you access and family members permissions needed to use the apps, and lock the settings.
- Install and configure parental control software for an extra layer of security. Blocking downloads, in-app transactions, and other activities at multiple levels make it harder for your kids to break the rules or to stumble into an unsafe situation online.
3. Use Strong Passwords
When you install parental control software and configure your phone, take the following steps to protect your password.
- Don’t use “bad” passwords, even if they’re easy to remember. They’re often the first hackers, young or otherwise, will try. With PINs, avoid sequential numbers like “1234” or “9876.”
- Make your password hard to guess. Avoid using the names of your kids, hobbies, and other elements that the people who know you best can figure out.
- When setting PINs, avoid common numbers in your life like birthdays or zip codes. Even the last four digits of your Social Security number is probably a bad idea; little ears can pick up more than you think.
- Don’t store passwords on a device or write them down where kids can easily access them. The former is particularly important since “helpful” software can autofill passwords.
Parental control software like Screen Time can help keep your family safe and the rules in place. To learn more about Screen Time and what it can do for your family, contact us!