Is Child Online Monitoring Right For You? – If you provide a Cell Phone or Tablet for your kids, that has unlimited access to the Internet, you should consider a number of safety elements that will protect your kids from immoral exposure, dangerous situations with predators, Sextortion and even illegal activities that affect teens in some states.
If you are on the fence about whether or not you should monitor your kids online activity, ask yourself this question:
Would you allow your child to play, unsupervised, with something known to be dangerous?
This is about the same as allowing your kid unlimited access to the Internet. Parenting is largely about supervision, guidance and protection. We as parents will go to great lengths to protect our children from harm but many parents still do not view the Internet as harmful, but there are more dangerous aspects to it than most realize.
Another thing that has increased some of the potential dangers of the Internet is the increased online activity during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has spawned more online activity with children spending less time outside the home. Many children are conducting online schooling and more time socializing and gaming via the Internet and predators are trying to take advantage of this. This warrants finding ways for child online monitoring.
Although every family situation as well as their beliefs are different, there is a common ground all parents share for protecting their children at many different levels. With that said, it seems there can be a combination of things a parent can do to help safeguard their children in an online digital world. We outline 3 elements we think a parent should consider concerning child online monitoring and safety.
Being upfront and talking to your kids about what concerns you most about the Internet. Many parents should be concerned about access to nudity, porn, and unsolicited Sexting pictures sent to them by someone in their social media groups or worse, a new friend on Instagram or through their online gaming. Also, discussing social media groups, and to beware of unsolicited requests by “new friends” who are not always what they say they are.
Talk to them about the kind of information they should share online with social media groups and websites they visit. There is a law called the Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) which makes it illegal for websites to store information about children under 13 years of age. However, the way that websites typically implement this is by asking the person registering for access to their website or mobile app to enter in their “date of birth”. If a child is motivated to get the app because all of their other friends have it, then they can enter any birth date that needs to gain access. The point is that if you never discussed this with your kids and specified that they should not do this, then they may make an uninformed decision. More importantly, you can look to find mobile apps that are COPPA compliant, but beware, they are far and few between.
Why would parents not use technology to help them parent over a digital realm that is not physical or in many cases invisible to them? In the past, parents would monitor certain aspects of their kid’s physical world. That is, things like “don’t leave the yard” or “be home by a specified hour”, etc. If they did not comply with these requests, there would be a consequence to pay (“you are grounded…!”) to dissuade a child from doing it again. How many parents “ground” their kids from using their cell phones? The invisible nature of what they are doing on their cell phones makes this very difficult to do. This is where parents should strongly consider fighting technology with technology (or mobile apps with mobile apps). We believe these are two important things to consider related to mobile app technology for this invisible playground our kids go to every day:
Now it is possible to keep an eye on what your children are doing on their cell phones and tablets by physically without physically reviewing the device or without asking them for their login information to their social media accounts. This can be time consuming, futile and invade your kid’s privacy beyond what is necessary.
DON’T TAKE AWAY ALL THEIR PRIVACY
Most parents will agree that allowing their kids to have privacy while they are online is important but there needs to be a balance when it comes to how much online monitoring they should do. The dangers of the Internet are too great to be ignored and finding a good balance between how much privacy you allow your kids to have online is important. There are varying mindsets on this topic and there is no correct answer as it will vary from parent to parent. It is safe to say that a comprehensive approach to online monitoring of your child’s cell phone or tablet is probably taking it too far. However, doing no online monitoring is probably a bad idea and somewhat irresponsible. Therefore, “responsible monitoring” is probably one of the best answers but how does a parent do this? One answer is to use a mobile app to do the online monitoring of the child’s cell phone or tablet for the parent. When the mobile app detects inappropriate content, for example: Sexting, porn, nudity, then the app will send an alert to the parent’s phone. This allows the child to maintain privacy over their innocent selfies and pictures from their social media interactions but when the line is crossed into something inappropriate, the parent will be notified. Also, it is important to note that a child should be aware that the app is being installed on their cell phone or tablet and the reasons why the parent is doing it. This also has the benefit of creating a self-policing situation with the child as the knowledge of the mobile app being installed on their cell phone creates a boundary for surfing online (web search) and other online activities that they might have decided to explore. There is also the potential for a child to inadvertently surf to a website that has inappropriate images, pictures or content as there are thousands of inappropriate websites that are not pornographic in nature.
Another way to implement the judicious monitoring (responsible monitoring) approach without technology is to let your kid’s know that you will be randomly asking them for their cell phone or tablet to spot check on their online activities. This approach can be effective but it is time consuming and relatively easy for kid’s to thwart. It is probably no surprise that kid’s will delete any inappropriate pictures they don’t want their parent’s to see and regularly clear their browsing history in order to cover their tracks. With an effective mobile app that scans the screen of a cell phone or table continuously, by the time an inappropriate image, picture or video is viewed by a child, the app has already stored the picture (or pictures) and sent an alert (or notification) to the parent’s cell phone.
Summing It Up
Although child online monitoring is not for every parent, keeping a close eye on what your kids do online is important. Regardless of your approach, implementing some measures to monitor who they are communicating with, what websites they visit, and which social media apps they use, is a good idea.
It’s also a worthwhile to periodically discuss what your expectations are of them when they are online and establish some house rules in which to provide them reasonable guidance. It is becoming increasingly important to keep your kids safe online but it takes effort. Using a mobile app to help with parental monitoring of your kids online is certainly a consideration.
One such app is MoVi Free Parental Control App. The MoVi Free Parental Control App focuses on alerting parents when adult content (nudity, porn, Sexting) is displayed on your child’s Android phone or tablet. When detected, it alerts a parent in near real-time and also sends a “blurred” copy of the image detected. MoVi continuously captures what is displayed on your child’s Android device, which means that pictures sent via Snapchat that disappear within seconds will be captured. It also works with videos and will capture inappropriate video images that are sometimes transmitted through social media apps like TikTok, Instagram, as well as any other social media app or website that exists in the world.
MoVi Free is available on Google Play, which means parents can download it with confidence. It works with Android 8.1 or newer devices and is unique in the functionality it provides as it relates to child online monitoring. However, if you are looking for a parental control app that allows for restricting functionality, etc. then it may make sense to consider using MoVi in conjunction with one of these apps (if you want universal monitoring too).
Now available for Free to all parents, no limitations, no recurring subscriptions, no cost to you, the Parent.
A link to Google Play is below.