Tip of the Week

Filters, Time Limits, and Tracking: How to Handle Parental Controls

You're hired! Your new position involves screening your child’s Instagram messages, watching their TikTok videos, preventing pornographic web searches, and making sure your child isn't waking up at 3 a.m. to text. Congratulations!

Trying to stay on top of our children’s’ device and media use can feel like a full-time job, so no wonder it's overwhelming. Controlling every facet of their online lives is essentially impossible: Despite our best efforts, their friend might show them something iffy, or they may find ways around the parental controls we put in place. That said, there are some tech tools that can help you set and maintain boundaries. Whether your little kid is on a tablet or your big kid has a phone, both iOS and Android have built-in features that control time spent, filter content, and put parents in the driver's seat. Devices like the Nintendo Switch and the Echo  have controls, and services like Netflix have some helpful settings. And if you're on the hunt for more, you can consider your goals  before getting special software or a device. In the end, though, setting boundaries and guiding our children’s tech use comes down to the parenting basics you know and love: conversations, expectations, transparent oversight, and clear consequences. Ultimately, we want our children to know how to self-regulate around media and tech, so we can set that as our goal no matter the controls we use—or don't.