Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Nearly three out of every four teenagers in the United States have access to a smartphone, their main line to the internet, Pew Research Center studies show. And with more teens online comes another escalation — parental concern.
After all, who knows what the kids are doing when they’re logged onto your home’s Windstream Wi-Fi or using the family’s smartphone data plan? A 2011 study found that most parents worried about their children meeting a stranger online, seeing porn or violent content and either being bullied or bullying.
So how do you rein in some of your child’s online activities? Here are a few safety apps with which our Windstream team think you could start.
Available for iOS, Android and Kindle devices, FamilyTime calls for one account for your whole family, and you can share that account with any other caretakers, like grandma or the babysitter. The catchall app lets you monitor call history, web history, installed apps, contacts, bookmarks, text messages and app usage. It also uses location tracking so you can see where the whole family is at the time and where they’ve visited over a period of time. Location tracking services can also notify you when a family member enters or leaves a place. The app also includes other features, such as an SOS alert to know when someone is in trouble, a PickMeUp alert to know when your children are ready for pickup and Teen Safe Drive to know when your kids are speeding when driving.
A free app, Life360 is about safety, synchronization and togetherness. You can create circle “members” with immediate family, friends, caregivers, etc. and customize messaging, location sharing and check-ins with specific circles. Like other apps, this one can send you alerts when circle members get to certain locations and driving details, including routes, top speeds and dangerous driving events like phone usage while driving. The company has another app called Driver Project, a subscription based app that can send you weekly driving reports, detect crashes and even offer extended roadside assistance.
A device similar to Amazon Echo or Google Home, Circle uses your home’s wireless connection to manage all of your connected devices. With features like bedtime, pause and offtime, when you can temporarily disable devices from using the internet at certain times of day. The app also includes rewards, such as bumping up time limits or allowing for a later bedtime. Circle touts an a la carte menu with customizable filters, in which parents can block certain websites and ads, have search engine results display only appropriate matches and create different presets for each of your children.
For parents who may want stronger control over their children’s apps, KidLogger can track web history, USB drives, CD/DVD usage and the most used files, folders and applications. The app can also record text entered onto computers, periodically take screenshots and monitor messaging services, such as Facebook and Skype. On phones, the app records incoming and outgoing text messages and phone calls, along with the photos taken from the device and any keystrokes typed using the phone.
And while it’s important to keep track of what your children are up to, don’t forget the old-fashioned way: talking to them. Have a conversation with them before you hand them a smartphone, for example, about the potential danger of the internet. And make sure you’re having some unplugged time, too.
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