Keeping Kids Safe Online – There’s An App For That (or 5!)
The risks that children face today look different than they did in the past. With easy access to the internet, there are endless opportunities for learning and connection, but those opportunities also come with risks. Children can quickly and easily connect with adults who don’t have their best interests at heart, or could take in damaging or confusing content. According to a study shared by NetNanny, 82% of children are exposed to inappropriate material online by age 11, which is a startling statistic. We have taken the time to compile some apps that will help you keep your kids safe online so they can safely explore, and you can breathe easy.
Qustodio allows parents and guardians to monitor and limit their child’s screen time, to identify where their kids are hanging out online and who they are texting with (as well as what they are texting). It also allows parents to see where their children are with their devices. You can set a schedule for when your kids can be online and it will even email you a 30-day summary of your child’s device usage. You can find out who your child is phoning and how often and there’s a panic button to send alerts to you from your child’s phone if they run into trouble.
Cost: The service runs between $55 and $138 a month depending on the number of devices you are looking to monitor.
Google Family Link
Google Family Link lets you monitor what your child is doing on their devices, decide which apps they can download, and it even recommends safe apps. You can also remotely lock your child’s device and see their location. They can still contact you when their device is locked so you can be reached in an emergency.
Cost: Google Family Link doesn’t have a fee associated.
If your family uses Apple products, you can use Screen Time to limit screen time, monitor app usage, restrict downloads of age inappropriate apps, and you can set limits on phone usage by app and function (phone, FaceTime, texting, maps). You can find devices and even set content rating restrictions to control the level of content your children can access for movies, podcasts, books and music. Apps are also organized by category so you can restrict a grouping of apps instead of just individual apps.
Cost: There is no cost associated with this service.
NetNanny, a trusted name since 1996, uses Artificial Intelligence to preemptively block content from your child’s impressionable eyes. You’re able to monitor your family’s usage, limit screen time and filter content in real time. You have visibility of search terms your kids are using that relate to porn, suicide, weapons and drug-related content and instant reporting of other searches. NetNanny lets you block pornography, specific apps and websites.
Cost: Plans range from $40-90 annually depending on the number of devices you would like to protect.
Bark lets you monitor your child’s email, social media and text messages for potential risks. You’ll even get parental alerts with child psychologist recommendations to address the issues reported. Bark shares its track record as including “5.2 million children protected, 16 school shootings prevented and 34 thousand severe self-harm situations detected.” That’s pretty impressive! (Read their viral undercover story here.)
Cost: Bark costs $50-100 annually depending on the level of functionality desired.
Keeping our kids safe is an important responsibility we have as parents and with the right tools, your children can learn and explore online with less risk of danger. These apps are like a sturdy fence for your backyard, so you can let the kids out to play knowing that they are safe. With the help of softwares like Bark, NetNanny, Screen Time, Family Link and Qustudio, the adventures don’t have to stop, they can just happen more safely.