Using Parental Controls on Mobile Devices
A parent’s number one priority always has to be the safety of their kids. Since kids seem to be born tech-savvy these days, it is important for parents to be proactive about securing their safety on mobile devices. While there are many accessories and independent apps that can prevent your children from accessing certain sites or from looking at content that has a certain maturity level, there are even simpler options for limiting what your children have access to. Each model of smartphone has its own parental controls built in and knowing how to use them should be a priority for all parents.
Turning on Parental Controls
No matter what brand or model of smartphone or tablet that you own, the parental control settings let you control what content is viewable. You can find these in the “settings” menu, but you will need to set up unique parental controls for each different device that you have.
Using Android Parental Controls
People love their Android phones because they love the unique customizability that comes with the Android OS and this is also true of the parental control settings available. Android devices have several different ways that parents can customize the content that their kids see on mobile devices.
Google has launched an extension called Family Link that allows parents to create separate accounts for their children and manage individual parental control settings easily. It starts with setting up a Google Account for the child. From there, you can approve or deny access to certain apps in the app store as well as remotely control the time the child spends on the device. Family Link will also send reports that outlines how much time your child spends on each app and which apps they use the most.
Google Play Store
For parents with older children or for those who only want to manage certain settings on a device, the Google Play store has its own set of built-in parental control options. Inside the Parental Controls menu, parents will be prompted to create a pin number. This pin number keeps the settings locked so that a child cannot alter them once they are set. It is important to create a pin that is easy to remember, but not easy enough that they would be able to guess it.
Apps and Games
You can restrict the kinds of apps that your children can see on the Play Store and filter them by content rating. When parental controls are turned on for games, all the games available in the app store can still be viewed, but it will not allow those games that are restricted by content rating to be downloaded.
Movies and TV
Parental controls will limit what movies are available for streaming or download based on maturity ratings that you can filter. Restricted movies aren’t viewable if they fall in the restrictions of the filter.
Parents can filter music in the Play Store so that their children cannot download anything marked as Explicit. This setting, however, does not apply to music available in the Play Music app or any third party music apps.
Using Apple Parental Controls
Apple devotees love the simple and straightforward nature of Apple’s iOS and this is especially true of the restrictions settings. iOS gives parents the ability to restrict usage of a large number of features. By simply tapping General, then Restrictions in the Settings menu, a parent is able to create a passcode that will allow them access to make changes.
Apps and Games
From here, restricting certain apps and features is as easy as pressing a button. When you restrict an app such as ‘Podcasts’ or ‘Facetime’, it disappears from the home screen. You can also completely restrict the ability to install and delete apps as well as in-app purchases.
Movies and TV
iOS allows parents to restrict movies, TV Shows, Books, Apps and Websites based on content ratings.
Other Restrictable Features
Features such as location services, location sharing, and use of the microphone can also be turned off. What is so helpful about the iOS restrictions settings is that you are able to restrict large groups of similar content or individual aspects with ease.
Restrict In-App Purchases
When using certain games and apps, users can be prompted to purchase additional content or more game time using real money. This is done using the credit card on file in the app store and can happen with just the click of a button. Children can agree to charges without realizing what it means and cost parents hundreds of dollars without any warning, but it can be easily avoided.
Both the Android and Apple operating systems give parents the ability to turn off in-app purchases so that their children will not be able to make any unauthorized purchases. You can find the setting for Android in the Play Games app menu and in the Restrictions menu for Apple.
The best way to ensure that your child is using mobile devices safely is to monitor their usage closely. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) is supposed to ensure that children under the age of thirteen are not granted access to apps like Facebook and Snapchat, but it is very easy to lie about your age on these sites. Staying informed about devices and the most popular apps is the best way to ensure safe usage.