Children’s Technology and Parental Controls

Child with laptop

One of the hardest things to monitor as a parent is the internet. At our home we have tried a variety of parental control apps – with varying success. Each that we have tried has it’s pros and cons. Every time we have “solved” it – our kids get smarter and are able to bypass.

Apple Screentime – Built into the iOS ecosystem. This is a free solution that can monitor time by app, set downtime and limits. There is also reporting so you can see visually where your child is spending their time online.

Circle – We have used Circle for quite a while – and although it initially worked well as time has gone on our children have gotten more savvy about bypassing it’s limits. I really like the ability to pause the internet for all devices with a click and setting up profiles by person. We use the Premium Option. I also liked filtering and the ability to block things like the internet, specific sites and specific applications at various times.

Bark – We haven’t tried Bark yet, but plan to in the near future. I like that it also monitors text messages.

Whatever solution you choose – you should make sure you monitor it to ensure that it is working as you planned.

Child using laptop with adult. Image by Chuck Underwood from Pixabay

Remote Learning and the Need for Nature

Remote Learning and Nature

Remote learning in our family has re-defined screen time for us. Previously we had fairly stringent controls using Circle, but we have had to loosen those up to allow for remote schooling. I made a profile for my boys – one for school and one for at home, that way we can have stronger controls on our home devices versus those that are needed for school.

We try to limit screentime at home to one or two hours a day based on the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations. On the weekends, we try to go outside and enjoy nature by going for a hike, doing land art or finding shells at a nearby beach. My younger son especially loves to go outside and run. It’s a great break from the screens and an opportunity to get outside and play! Playtime outside is such an important time which allows kids to use their imagination, enjoy different animals and experiences that they might not otherwise have at home.

Recently, my son did land art at school and decided to pick up shells at school and make a sculpture of land art on the beach. It was fun to watch him make it – and to get outside.

That said – limiting screentime during remote learning is tough! Blue light blocker glasses work well for kids as well as the ability to adjust the brightness and color shift the screen. We also remind our kids to be good digital citizens. We also screen programming to make sure it is age appropriate, remind them of good digital behavior and encourage use of screens in family spaces like the living room. NetSmartz is a great resource for kids and parents, as is this Boys Life article about cyber safety.

My husband and I know that screens are here to stay, and we can find different ways to encourage off time from the screens when not doing schooling.