I am often asked “how do I monitor my children’s digital life”. This is an answer that can vary based on many factors. A lot of it is a parenting decision. Every family has to figure out what works for them.
In our home, everyone has an iOS device. Our Pact is fantastic. It is now also offered on Android devices:
Our Pact is an app that I have on my phone and it controls my children’s iOS devices. It basically shuts down all the apps on their devices. They disappear. Remotely block internet and app usage on your child’s device. At any time, instantly grant access to your child’s device during a manual block or schedule. Set a recurring device schedule for activities like school, dinner time, or bedtime. I am a big fan. It takes away the fight and the kids know the schedule. I will often hear from my 10 year old’s bedroom “Mom could I have 10 more minutes please so I can finish something”? You can visit their website and learn more about it here.
Also – within most devices themselves there are parental controls. Again, on an iOS device it looks like this:
It really is great. Your 12 year old will not accidentally download a song with explicit lyrics if you have it set up properly. Have a really young child who plays with an old iPad? You can shut off apps like Safari and the App Store. You hold the password to the parental controls.
Worried about their computer use? There are things you can do there as well.
Qustodio is a great software. I installed this on my children’s laptops and you can monitor and control content. Qustodio’s real-time internet filter blocks inappropriate content even in private browsing mode. Monitor time spent on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp and more. Easily set a time schedule or limits for how much internet time is allowed each day. Set time limits for games & apps or block apps you don’t want from running altogether. See who your child calls or texts most, read text messages, and set a list of blocked contacts.
Track your child’s location. In an emergency your child can use the Panic Button to call for help.
Try it out if you like. One user and one device is free. Check the website for info on more users.
Another popular monitoring tool is the fairly new router from Disney called Circle. With Circle you can set Time Limits for apps and web sites, finally getting screen time in check. You can also set up age appropriate filters that apply to all their devices. Circle pairs with your home Wi-Fi and lets you manage every device on your network, both wireless and wired, without ever needing to put software on them.
Net Nanny is another one that is fairly popular. It offers many different options for devices and platforms.
Techmom has no affiliation with any of the above mentioned softwares or apps. I am just letting you know what is out there.
Another thing we do is have a central charging station where devices are plugged in at night:
This charging station lives in our kitchen and all the devices are plugged in here at night.
Stay on top of it, be willing to talk with your children about the rules and adjust them as needed. It’s an ongoing conversation.