In today’s modern age, we spend more and more time behind screens. Multiple activities are now automated on technological platforms which mandates the need for electronic devices at homes. Children and teenagers at home are the ones most affected by this era of technology. They require electronic devices for day-to-day functioning; be it for school, university, or even maintaining contact with friends/family. In such a scenario, parents feel that their control over what their children do on the internet is growing in importance.
Online platforms may have been initially designed as platforms for sharing knowledge, but have slowly grown into ones which are not too user-friendly for unattended children. Explicit music, violent video games, and sexually explicit content are just a few clicks away. While it is natural for such topics to spike a child’s curiosity, it can more often than not leave a negative impact on children who are not mature or intellectually competent enough to view such obscenities. Search engines like Google and Yahoo try their best to address this problem; however, it is possible for children to stumble upon such content even if it was not their intention. These points emphasise the need for parents to exercise some levels of control on what and how their children are viewing content online. Thus, the following pointers can be kept in mind when planning to restrict devices used by children.
Smartphone Parental Control
Since smartphones are so common across nearly all sectors of society, children today know how to function a mobile – sometimes even better than their parents. Android system operated phones enable users to create multiple user profiles, enabling parents to create another profile for their children whenever required. This feature allows regulating the functionality of certain apps for different user profiles created. A similar feature is present in IOS-operated Apple iPhones as well.
Web Browser Control
‘SafeSearch’ is a setting included in popular search engines which effectively filters explicit content which isn’t fit for underage audiences. Web browsers such as Google Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer provide the option of downloading web extensions, which block all content related to chosen predefined keywords.
Computer Operating Systems
Both Windows and MacOS software have built-in parental controls now. These softwares allow parents to limit screen time, pre-decide a list of accessible website URLs, and prevent the system from being accessed by users during a specific time frame. These features along with those provided by internet browsers can prove to be an effective way to safeguard youngsters from the vices of the internet.
While there are many tools which can be used to limit access provided to children, one should also encourage them to use the internet for productive and fun purposes. Certain sites have been designed specifically to ensure that children can surf the web in an interesting and safe way. A prominent example of such a site is ‘Kiddle,’ a search engine precisely developed for children. In this engine, SafeSearch is always on and it displays results based on their usefulness for kids. These sites inspire youngsters to access the internet for productive purposes and divert their attention away from other domains on the internet.
Gaming Device Control
Gaming console systems developed by manufacturers such as Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are becoming increasingly popular with the youth. They can prove to be significant distractions to them, and while limited/controlled access to these consoles is close to harmless, parents should consider restricting their accessibility. These consoles provide internet and browsing features which can be controlled by creating separate user IDs for children.
The internet as a platform has a host of pros and cons for children and teens. It can be used as an influential medium for learning and knowledge, however, excessive time in front of screens in the form of phones/tablets/laptops and televisions can be detrimental in the long run. There is an apparent digital divide between the two generations, which makes it essential for parents to stay up-to-date with dynamic trends and technology that exist today.