Try these parental controls for hyper-connected kids

Cyber bullying, digital addiction, age-inappropriate content, predators — these are a parent's nightmares. Are the measures you’ve taken to prevent them enough by themselves? Here are some tips from a parent.

By Ritika Jain

There are many apps empowering parents to track web history, view actual texts exchanged and know the exact GPS location of their child, considering that he or she physically carries the gadget the app is installed in. Net Nanny, SecureTeen or TeenSafe, for example, even let you block certain kinds of sites.

While some parents may have talked it over with their child and made them understand that these precautions are for their own safety, other domineering ones may have forced these conditions on the child. What they don’t know is that kids are smarter than them these days and will find ways to bypass the controls if they want to. wikiHow shows you just how to do that. So, when six-year-olds are showing new WhatsApp features to their parents and teens are taking screenshots of Snapchat messages that were meant to be deleted, parents definitely need to stay abreast of tech news and take whatever small measures they can. It’s like wearing a seatbelt to secure yourself, and hoping no mishap occurs.

What are the options available?

Installing anti-virus and firewall software like Norton Family Premier, PhoneSheriff or ESET can help protect your kids from online predators by showing you what your kids are doing online and identifying potential dangers. Some of these can be installed on multiple gadgets, some are for iOS and some for Android.

Subscribing to monitoring apps like Kidslox, Google Family Link, TeenShield or MamaBear can help enforce house rules besides masking profanity and blocking inappropriate content. Some apps like mSpy let you track Snapchat, mails or track locations while FlexiSpy gives you access to the user’s Facebook and Skype accounts, plus sends camera usage alerts. Some apps like MamaBear can share Instagram, Twitter or Tinder alerts with you.

Editing user settings on various gadgets or websites. For example, YouTube Kids lets you choose content according to age group and track viewing history. All you have to do is turn on the restricted mode at the bottom of the page and save. iPad gives you the screen recording option. By going into settings>restrictions>general>accessibility, you can also choose guided access and even set a limit on viewing time.

Using browser extension tools like eSafely or locking safe search on Google will ascertain that objectionable search words don’t yield results on popular web resources including Wikipedia.

Creating separate profiles on Netflix. You can manage the kids’ profile on the web and allow specific TV shows suited to their age.

Enabling passcodes so kids can’t access certain sites without your permission or without you around. On an iPhone, go to restrictions under settings and choose ‘enable passcode’. Make sure it’s not easy enough for the child to guess. Kindle Fire HD allows you to do the same.

Setting age restrictions on X Box or PS4 accounts. PS4 allows sub accounts based on date of birth to be created under a master account (which is linked to a primary mail account). Unfortunately, this only keeps a check on chats and spending. X Box lets you block certain content through a passkey, under privacy and online safety settings.

Changing preferences on your home WiFi router through the OpenDNS server instead of routing all information through your ISP (Internet Service Provider) will save you the trouble of changing settings on individual gadgets.

Other precautions

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