Updated: Aug 26, 2022
Putting parental controls on all of your kids’ devices is overwhelming! Plus, kids know all kinds of ways to bypass parental controls. Find out the best parental controls you need to keep your kids protected.
I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar.”
- Psalm 101:3 (NLT)
Do your kids have access to the internet? Then parental controls are an absolute must. But face it—setting up parental controls on all of your children’s devices is an overwhelming task! It takes a lot of time, research, and know-how. Perhaps that’s why only 4 out of 10 parents put any type of parental controls on their children’s devices.1 But consider this:
90% of children ages 8 to 16 have seen online porn.2
70% of children ages 7 to 10 years old have accidentally encountered online porn, often through a web search while doing homework.3
10% of 7th graders believe they are addicted to porn and can’t stop viewing it.4
Law enforcement officials estimate that more than 50,000 sexual predators are online at any given moment.5
22% of teenage girls say they have posted nude or semi-nude pictures or videos of themselves online.6
65% of 8 to 14-year-olds have been involved in a cyber-bulling incident.7
That’s why experts advise not to give your children any kind of technological device without first setting up parental controls and establishing rules for each device.
WHAT PARENTAL CONTROLS CAN DO
Parental controls can:
Block inappropriate web content
Limit screen time
Send alerts and reports of online activity
Create schedules of when the device will work and when it will not, such as bedtime
Restrict access by time and category, such as no social media or gaming during homework time
Protect against adware and phishing
Block certain features of online games
Track your child’s location
Monitor your child’s texts and messages
Block new apps without parental permission
Track your child's YouTube or Hulu viewing history
Disable the ability to take photos and videos
Lock down a device remotely
HOW KIDS CAN AND DO BYPASS PARENTAL CONTROLS
Before you decide which parental controls to use, be aware that tech-savvy kids know how to workaround parental controls, and they pass that knowledge around. (A quick Google search will inform kids how to dismantle parental controls—even if they don’t know your passcode!)
For instance, on Apple iPhones, kids can reset their phones and set up a new Apple ID, thus avoiding all previous parental controls. Or, they can change the time to trick the time limit. Or, they can use iMessage to watch off-limit YouTube videos.
Many built-in settings aren’t even password protected, so kids can just go into settings and easily undo your parental controls. If you only use the parental controls on your wireless service provider, your kids can just use wi-fi instead, making the controls irrelevant. It’s a similar problem if you only set up controls on your home router. If your kids turn off their wi-fi and use their unlimited data plan, they can totally elude the controls.
You can also put controls on the browsers; but innovative teens often just download a different browser and hide it in a folder, totally evading the other browser’s controls. There are dozens of other hacks and workarounds as well.
So, what’s a parent to do? Well, unless you choose an expensive comprehensive monitoring system, you’ll probably need a combination of parental controls. Just like most companies rely on a multi-layered system of security, to fully protect your child you need a multi-layered approach. In other words, use a combination of controls so that your child is fully protected.
5 WAYS TO SET UP PARENTAL CONTROLS
Basically, there are five ways to set up parental controls on your children’s devices.
1. On the built-in settings on each device and/or individual system programs
2. On your wireless service provider
3. On your router
4. Third-party software or apps
5. Combination of above
1. BUILT-IN SETTINGS
Most newer computers, smartphones, tablets, and gaming systems will have parental controls built in and can be turned on in Settings. (Parents, don’t forget that gaming systems are connected to the internet and need parental controls.) You can set up parental controls individually on:
· Game Consoles (Xbox, PS4, etc.)
· internet Service Providers (Verizon, ATT, etc.)
· Internet Security Systems (Norton Security, Bitdefender, etc.)
· Internet Browsers (Chrome, Safari, etc.)
· Search Engines (Google, Bing, etc.)
· Video Sites (YouTube, Netflix, etc.)
· Social Networks (Snapchat, Instagram, etc.)
To find out how to set up parental controls on your specific device, read “How to Set up Parental Controls on all Devices.”
2. WIRELESS SERVICE PROVIDER
Most wireless service companies like T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, and ATT offer parental controls, often for an added monthly fee. The advantages of setting parental controls on your wireless provider is that it’s good at restricting usage, blocking numbers, and spending money on apps.
The disadvantages of relying solely on your wireless provider is that not all of them offer the ability to filter and block websites and apps. And if your child switches to wi-fi, many of the features don’t work. Also, none of the cellular providers currently offer parents notifications if your child visits an unsavory site. Therefore, if you do use your wireless provider for parental controls, be sure to use built-in and/or third-party parental controls as well.