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Technology has changed a lot about our world and is here to stay. Kids now have access to the internet at a young age. It can be beneficial if they use the web wisely, but there are many risks, so you must monitor your child’s online activities. You don’t have to go full spy; there are many non-invasive ways to do that, and this article will explain them.
Effective ways to monitor your child’s online activities include:
1. Parental control software
Many parental control tools enable you to monitor your child's browsing activities and set restrictions. Different tools have different features, but most allow parents to set time limits, block access to inappropriate content, and monitor social media activities.
With a parental control app, you can block access to entire categories of sites, e.g., gambling and adult content. The blocklists are constantly updated to prevent access to new inappropriate sites that pop up daily. This way, you are assured that your child is protected from harmful content.
You can use these tools to set browsing time limits. Once the allotted time is up, the device automatically locks. This feature prevents your children from staying incessantly online and getting distracted.
Like with all technology-related things, no parental control software is foolproof. A tech-savvy child can attempt to bypass the restrictions, which is why other methods are needed.
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2. Communicate with your child
Technology helps, but it can not perform the full job of monitoring online activities. As a parent, ensure you communicate with your children and ask them about their online activities. Build trust so they can tell you the truth even when inconvenient. Listen to them and give good feedback when needed. If you think what they’re doing online is inappropriate, don’t hesitate to explain why.
3. Router monitoring and time scheduling
You can monitor your child’s online activities from your Wi-Fi router. The router can show you the browsing history of your child’s device and log the times they stayed online. This helps you stay on top of their online activities and easily identify inappropriate websites. Any website you consider inappropriate can be blocked at the click of a button.
You can also set time limits via your Wi-Fi router. Once the time is up, the connection automatically disconnects, and your child will have to focus on something else.
4. Web browser filtering
Web browser filtering is an often overlooked but effective method of monitoring online browsing. You can configure your website to a proxy so that every attempt to enter an inappropriate site will not be successful. The proxy will recognize the URLs you blacklisted and prevent the connection from going through.
Most web browsers also allow you to block access to specific sites via the settings panel. Head to the panel and select the domains you want to prevent your child from accessing.
5. Familiarize yourself with the apps they use
The most effective way to understand what your child is doing online is to download and use the same apps to see what they're about. This way, you can easily judge if it's a safe app you should allow or an unsafe one to block.
Also, research about the apps online. Check customer reviews and articles to see if there are any noteworthy complaints about it.
6. Enable Family Sharing
Family sharing enables you to monitor your children’s online activities on smartphones. This is more common with iOS than Android devices, although it still works on the latter. With family sharing enabled, you can restrict how much time your child is allowed to surf the net directly from your own device. You can also configure your kid's phone such that it can’t download any app unless your own device provides consent. This prevents your kids from downloading risky apps without your consent.
7. Monitor social media activities
Social media enables kids to keep in touch with their peers but comes with many risks. For instance, your kid may get contacted by unethical people seeking to take advantage of them. Social media platforms are also rife with misleading content designed to trick unsuspecting people.
Many experts advise that children should stay away from social media altogether. But, if you want to give your child access, ensure it is strictly monitored. Make the accounts private so they can’t be contacted by unknown persons. Monitor who they interact with and whatever they post or share to ensure they use the platform safely. You can stick to kid-friendly social media platforms such as Messenger Kids. Mainstream ones like TikTok and Instagram are meant for adults, not kids.
8. Encourage learning and creativity
You can encourage your kids to seek educational content online and build their knowledge and skills. For example, if your kid is interested in music, many YouTube channels and learning platforms teach how to play musical instruments. If your kids love science, you can subscribe to kid-friendly streaming platforms that teach scientific topics. The idea is to direct your child toward the productive parts of the internet and steer them away from the harmful parts.
9. Set ground rules
Above all, establish ground rules your kids should adhere to when surfing the internet. Don’t just state the rules but explain them and let them know it’s for their own good. Educate your kids about the dangers of the internet and why they need to adhere to restrictions to avoid falling victim.
For instance, you can agree on what specific times to put their phone down; before homework is taken care of, before bedtime, during dinner, etc. You can agree on the type of content that is off-limits and give your reasons.
The internet has become a part of everyone’s life, both parents and kids. The latter tend not to understand the internet's drawbacks, so they need parental guidance and monitoring. We have shown you effective ways of monitoring your children’s online activities while respecting their privacy to a good extent.
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Stefan has always been a lover of tech. He graduated with an MSc in geological engineering but soon discovered he had a knack for writing instead. So he decided to combine his newfound and life-long passions to become a technology writer. As a freelance content writer, Stefan can break down complex technological topics, making them easily digestible for the lay audience.