As a parent, you want to protect your kids from the more undesirable parts of the Internet. But that gets harder as technology becomes more prevalent in children's lives - TVs and gaming devices are in their rooms, tablets and smartphones travel with them to school, and wearables are literally attached to their bodies.
Even if you've verbally set screen-time limits and talked with your kids about the dangers of the World Wide Web, it's a challenge to manage everything they're doing online. Luckily, there are a number of apps, guides, and controls available to make this a little easier.
Here are 10 resources to help you monitor your kids' devices:
Your toddler won't need an Internet browsing filter, but they may need some restrictions on what they can access on your mobile device. Enter the Kiddoware app.
Kiddoware childproofs your phone or tablet, preventing your little one from accidentally swiping photos into the trash or sending a gibberish email to your coworkers. It restricts apps you haven't approved, blocks downloads, and bans phone calls and texting.
2. Parental Control Bar
The Parental Control Bar app is a free service for any concerned parent with young children just starting to use the Internet. This simple toolbar interface provides simple, one-click controls. Activate Child Mode when your little ones want their screen time, and the toolbar will block adult websites.
3. Satellite TV Parental Guides
Today's satellite TV providers have parental guides built into their offerings. DIRECTV, for example, partners with Common Sense Media to provide detailed information on concerning content like violence or sexuality. Once you know what is and isn't okay, you can block inappropriate channels with a password-protected control system.
4. My Mobile Watchdog
One of the only apps that will track full cellphone use, My Mobile Watchdog, gives you access to your children's text messages, call logs, and contact lists.
The app also provides real-time location tracking, lets you blacklist certain apps and websites, and employs a time block feature to limit cellphone use.
5. Send This Instead
Teens that are pressured to send nude pictures now have a voice with the Send This Instead app. This creative app features a collection of witty and smart responses teens can send in response to requests for nude pictures. The apps gallery includes postcard-style images with responses like, "I can't send you nude photos, but I'll send this to my dad and you can try asking him for some."
6. Gaming System Controls
The most effective way to control gaming consoles and handhelds is to set up the built-in parental controls. Digital Trends offers a detailed guide on how to engage the parental settings for today's major consoles. Setup of these devices is critical, as it falls to parents to make sure things like Web browsing, voice chat, and store purchases are disabled for children.
7. Nighthawk Router
If you have older kids, you likely have multiple tablets, phones, computers, and gaming consoles connected to the Internet. Instead of installing software on every single device, Netgear's Nighthawk smart router allows you to use Netgear Live Parental Controls to filter all connected devices. The control system offers five filter levels, so the device can be adjusted depending on who's using it.
8. Internet Matters
Are you unfamiliar with the tech your teen is using? The Internet Matters website is full of valuable information parents need to know about everything from sexting to social networking. This nonprofit website will help you set up the pre-installed controls on kids' devices, and it also offers advice for digitally managing each age group.
A one-time Mobicip setup on each mobile device gives you control over your kids' digital lives. Advanced Cloud filters scan Web pages, Internet searches, and even YouTube videos to block objectionable material. The parent dashboard lets you monitor your kids' browsing history and restrict the amount of time your children spend on their smart devices. As kids grow and their online needs change, the flexible platform can be adjusted to unblock formerly restricted content.
10. Net Nanny
If you want to protect your kids from cyberbullying, turn to Net Nanny. This software shields kids from online threats, monitors social media "friends," and alerts parents of potential sexual predators. The app also blocks pornography and vulgar language, and it even sends reports about your child's online activity.
A decade ago, placing the family computer in a common room of your home was enough to control your kid's Internet activity. But today, monitoring the many ways your child interacts with the Internet can get overwhelming. Use these parental control resources to make that job a little easier and shelter your kids from the seedier aspects of the Internet.