What are my options for parental controls on the Internet?
There are several software tools and browser add-ons that allow parents to control and monitor their children's Internet usage, including:
- Tools that filter or block certain content (some allow the parent to set the filters, others are pre-determined)
- Software that prevents kids from sharing personal information via chat or email
- Tools that allow your child to access the Internet only at prearranged times
- Monitoring tools that do not block access, but allow parents to see the child's online activity
Are there browser settings or sites specifically created for safe usage by kids?
Some browers, such as Zoodles, Kido'z, and KidZui can only access lists of pre-approved sites and games, and many offer parental tools for further customization. There are also kid-friendly search engines, including KidsClick for younger children and SweetSearch for teens, that let kids search the Web without stumbling onto age-inappropriate material.
What about parental controls on mobile devices like smart phones?
There are several parental control apps, which come in a range of prices (including free!), specifically for use with either Apple or Android products.
- For safe browsing: Mobicip Safe Browser Premium gives details instructions for locking down the device, while Norton Online Family to Go replaces the device's built-in browser.
- For keeping tabs: Some apps, such as Android's eBlaster Mobile, allow parents to check on the child's location, while others, such as Family Tracker, let parents set designated safe zones and set up an alert if the child goes beyond them.
- For safe driving: CellSafety includes the option to block texting while driving.
What kind of parental controls are available for video games?
Depending on the game system or browser, your options might include:
- Filtering by rating, using the Entertainment Software Ratings Board's (ESRB) rating system, allowing the parent to choose which games can be played
- Setting specific days and times for game play, while disabling access at non-approved times
- Muting or disabling within-game chat, which can help prevent oversharing of information and cyberbullying
- Requiring parental approval for in-game friend requests or approved lists of players
- Disabling, or password-protecting, in-game purchases
Are there any parental controls specifically for social media?
Several tools are designed to prevent cyberbullying and other risks of social media. Most alert parents to potentially dangerous Facebook friends and posts. Other tools extend protection to sites like Twitter, Google+, and MySpace, and some offer parents the option to see every single post on their child's feed.
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