Two teen boys playing video games.

How to Keep Your Child Safe Online at Friends’ Homes

by Screen Time Team on 30/05/2018
Three teen girls lying down using their phones.

When they travel, make sure the rules come with them.

Get Everyone On The Same Page

To start with, you should discuss with your fellow parents what their rules are, especially around screen time. You might be surprised to discover that in fact the rules elsewhere are much more strict; in some cases, the tablet might need to stay at home. You should also ask if they use specific parental control software on their devices, or lean more toward using device settings, such as the iPhone parental controls. You might want to email over the necessary passwords, if doing homework and other tasks are on the table. But regardless, you should know the rules around screen time and make sure your kids understand them. They are guests, after all. You should also make it clear that just because they’re out of the house and under a new set of rules doesn’t mean they’re off the hook.

You should also discuss other points that are tied to technology, but aren’t software adjacent. For example, if you don’t allow your kids to play certain kinds of video games, have explicitly banned them from certain apps, or have parental control settings on your Netflix account that other parents don’t, that’s a good conversation to have.

Two teen boys playing video games.

Every sibling should have the same rules, even if they leave the house.

Set The Schedule

Once the rules are in place, you can set expectations and reconfigure parental control software to fit them. If, for example, your kids are working on a group project for homework that might take them past the usual amount of time you have allotted for homework, you can free up extra time in the app to let them get their work done. Also be sure to have your phone handy, if you’re using software that had a remote unlock.

Beyond that, keep a schedule locked into their devices, not just to enforce the rules, but also to encourage them to do things like talk to their friends. Be a little flexible here; if kids want to watch a movie together after bedtime, and it’s OK with you and the other parents, then go for it. Just be clear this is an exception, not a new rule.

Keep The Software Running

Finally, a good way to keep the rules in place is to have your software running. The reality is even good kids can egg each other on, and sleepovers are a moment where boundaries can be pushed, or at least kids will try. Parental control software on devices is a useful tool to trust, but verify, so that kids don’t try to access things you’d rather they not see.

If you need to have some parental controls in place before the first sleepover, sign up for Screen Time – it’s free!

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