WATCH: 5 free tools you can use to monitor your child's social media
As a parent, it's understandable to want to provide your child with smart devices which can give them access and connect to the rest of the world. For children living in today's digital world, there is an infinite amount of possibilities that can help develop their minds. and
Although we want give our kids these requisite tools, the reality is there is a dark side to social media that children should be protected from.
Here are five free tools you can use to monitor your child's presence on social media.
1. Android Controls
You can childproof your child's Android devices in three ways: creating a child user-friendly profile, setting restrictions in the Google Play Store and installing the Youtube app for kids.
Child Profiles: One of the first things all parents should do when they give their child a smartphone, is to create a user profile for the child and begin setting restrictions. You would first need to create a regular account on the device, with your Gmail account associated with the phone.
-First, drag down your notifications shade and select settings.
-Scroll down until you see Users. If your phone has a Settings app split into sections, you might have to search other tabs to find the Users menu.
-In Users, you'll see your own account or the main account of the owner of the phone. There will be an 'Add user' option, so tap on this.
-Accept the message by tapping 'OK' then tap on 'SET UP NOW'
-The device will log you out and ask you to sign into the new user's account. As that's for a child, in this case, you'll continue to make the settings.
-Tap Continue, as in the image above left, then you'll be asked if you want to sign into an Android account. If you want to prevent your kids from downloading apps, games, music, videos and TV shows through Google Play, just tap on Skip Setup. You will still be able to download apps etc. via your own user account.
-You'll also have the option to set up their email account or tap not now if you don't want to.
Google Play Store Parental Controls:
After we finally set up your child's account, the very next thing we have to do is set up the parental controls in the Google Play store. This is going to give you control if you want your kids to be able to download applications or limit them to particular applications that can even be seen.
-Launch the Play Store app (this is in their user account on the phone or tablet still) and tap the three horizontal lines at the top left.
-Scroll down and tap Settings, then scroll until you see Parental controls.
-Tap it, and you'll have to create a PIN code. Enter this twice.
-Now the setting will be turned on and you can then tap each category to set how restrictive you want to be for each. For apps and games, the numbers relate to ages, so tap PEGI 7 is the child is between four and seven. Be sure to tap SAVE at the bottom of each screen.
-Below the Parental controls, master switch is shown a summary of which restriction is set for each type of content.
-If you want to prevent kids from buying content freely, you can set a PIN that only you know which will be asked for when they try to download anything that costs money. To do this, go back to the main Play Store settings menu and tap on 'Require authentication for purchases'. Then you'll see a screen like the one below, right.
-The Play Store isn't the only place to download apps and games, so it's important to make sure other sources are blocked. To do this, go back to the device's home screen, and drag down from the top of the screen again to get to the cog icon - tap it to open the Settings app.
Youtube for Kids
-Using this app will allow you to select your child's age bracket and it will display age-appropriate content as deemed by Google. While nothing is 100% perfect, if you do happen to come across inappropriate content, Youtube allows you to flag very easily and it will be removed.
-The 'search on' the option you encounter will allow kids to search for videos within the age bracket you have set out. The 'search off' option means kids will not be able to search for any videos but find videos through the preset menus laid out.
-This can be a bit limiting but will decrease the chances of your kids getting the content you do not want them to have access to.
2. Find My Device:
If your child has an Android smartphone or tablet, it is a good idea to activate the find my device feature on your device. This will allow you 3 important options. The ability to track the device, lock the device, and wipe the device in the event it gets lost and cannot be retrieved.
-In order for this application to work your device must be connected with data plan or a wifi connection.
-Open up your browser and search for Find My Device, then select the first link that comes up.
-Login with your Gmail and password
-You will be presented with a live map and 3 options. If you are signed into multiple devices, you can toggle between them in the top left-hand corner.
-The page will ring your device, even if it is on silent. Lock will allow you to lock the device from the Google servers and input a recovery message and phone number to contact if found. The wipe will erase all information if the device cannot be found.
This application can be very useful if you are a parent and you need to find out where your child is. You can also download the Find My Device app onto your mobile device, and sign in to be presented with the same options as on the computer.
3. Whatsapp & Whatsapp Web
A growing concern for parents is the use of the application Whatsapp. With predators finding new ways to lure kids, parents must be more vigilant with whom their kids are speaking with than ever before. One such way to monitor your kid's conversations without ever picking up their phone is the use of Whatsapp web.
-First get your child's smartphone, open up the WhatsApp application.
-Select Whats app web
-Launch your computer browser and go to web.whatsapp.com or Google Whatsapp Web.
-You will then need to scan the barcode on your computer screen with your child's phone for security.
-Your WhatsApp will then be loaded onto your web browser and you will be able to see in real time all the conversations and media coming to and from the device.
-You can close the browser or shut down the CPU and this will automatically load the next time you go onto Whatsapp web.
The only way for this connection to be severed is you must go back into the child's device, into the Whatsapp web setting and disconnect it.
4. Facebook For Kids
Children need to be at least 13-years-old to open a Facebook account. You can limit their communication with people they don't know and how people can find/contact them by changing all of the settings to friends only. This will do a great deal to ensure that your teen's information is only seen and shared amongst friends and not the general public.
Another thing to note is the release of Facebook messenger for kids on iOS and soon to be released for Android. This app allows parents to approve who their kids talk to but there is heavy filters on the sharing nudity, violent or sexual content. So far this was released in the US, but keep an eye out for global roll out.
Install this app on their phone first and then go through the instructions of setting it up on their child's device. From there you'll be notified of the following:
-Suspicious images sent & received
-Inappropriate texts like bullying or suicide warnings
-Child's ringer so that if it is off or low, you can remotely raise the volume
Screen Limit is a paid subscription service. This application will allow you to:
-Instantly block or unblock devices remotely from parent device
-Limit screen time on the device or set an allotted time limit per application
-Set scheduled times for the device to be used per day
You can check out the trial version of the application and if you feel like this app is worth it, then go ahead and purchase a subscription.