From suffering cyberbullying to contacting unknown people or accessing false and inappropriate content. are some of online risks teens face when using connected devices. In Spain, seven out of 10 minors already have a mobile phone, according to a published report by the National Observatory of Technology and Society (ONTSI). To teach them to use the Internet safely and responsibly, in addition to parental support, some parental control tools may be useful. This allows Apple and Google to activate controls to limit the time in front of the mobile screen, block applications and restrict access to adult content.
How long do they use the phone and for what?
To protect teenagers, it is advisable to be aware of their day to day online, as indicated by the Parental Mediation Guide: for a safe and responsible use of the Internet by minorsof Safe Internet for Kids (IS4K). Parents can check how much time their child uses the mobile, which applications she has invested in, how many times she has unlocked the device and even the number of notifications received. To consult this information on a terminal with the Android operating system, you have to open the settings and select the option “digital well-being and parental controls”. On the iPhone, you have to enter the “time of use” section within the settings.
Control usage time
Parents can also choose how long each day their child can use the mobile. If your terminal has the Android operating system, the father can download the application Family Link on your mobile and from there limit both the screen time and the time that certain apps can be used. To set these options, you have to open Family Link, select the option “controls” and activate the “daily limit” or the “limit of applications”. Once the minor exceeds the set time, the device will be locked so that they cannot see notifications and can only use the apps that the parent has previously allowed.
If your child’s mobile is an iPhone, you have to enter the settings and select the option “time of use” and “limits of use of apps”. By doing so, it is possible to set a maximum usage time per day for each app. It is also possible to set a pattern for each day of the week. Something that would be useful if, for example, you want your child to only use certain apps on Saturdays and Sundays. So that the minor cannot bypass this control, it is important to activate the option “use code for airtime”. In this way, when the established limit is reached, you will not be able to continue using the apps in question unless you know the code entered by its parent.
Prevent purchases in app stores
So that the minor cannot download any application on an Android mobile, you have to open the Play Store, enter the settings and activate the “parental control” option. In doing so, the parent must enter a PIN code that the device will request each time someone tries to download an app. There is also an option to block the purchase of apps and elements within them. To activate it, you have to enter the settings within the Play Store and click on “authentication” and “request authentication to make purchases”. By activating the option “for all purchases made through Google Play on this device”, when the minor goes to buy something, they will have to enter the Google account password before proceeding with the payment.
iPhones also have a feature to prevent children and teens from purchasing and downloading apps on iTunes and the App Store. To activate it, you have to enter the “use time” option, which is within the phone settings. Once in it, you have to click on “restrictions” and “purchases in iTunes and App Store”. In this way, it is possible to prevent the minor from installing apps, deleting them or making purchases within them.
Limit access to adult content
“Our sons and daughters can access a multitude of content that is harmful to their personal development on the Internet,” they say from IS4K. This is the case of “disturbing images or videos, fashions that promote negative values, health risks or bad habits, or false or lacking in rigor information that circulates on the Internet.” Both Google and Apple have tools to prevent this.
On an Android mobile, the parents can configure Google SafeSearch with the Family Link app to block results that “include sexually explicit content, such as pornography, bloody images, and violence.” “Although no filter is completely foolproof, when SafeSearch is turned on, it helps filter explicit content from Google search results for all searches, whether they are images, videos, or websites,” the tech giant says.
Apple’s content filtering “allows us to restrict web pages directed to an adult audience or limit access to only those websites that we determine, as well as configure privacy settings,” according to Parental Control Tool Guide, developed by the National Institute of Cybersecurity (INCIBE). To limit access to adult content in Safari and other apps of the device, you have to enter the “time of use” tab in the settings, click on “restrictions”, then on “content restrictions” and, finally, on “web content”. The parent can choose whether to “limit access to adult websites” or only “allowed websites” to work. That is, those that he himself adds manually.
How to control these settings remotely
Although many of the aforementioned settings can be activated from the minor’s mobile, there are also alternatives to do it remotely. In the event that the terminal is Android, it is possible to use the free Google parental control application: Family Link. “Its tools are easy to use and allow you to understand what your children are spending time on when they are with their devices or manage privacy settings, among other options,” says the Mountain View company.
Apple also offers parents an option to configure these settings from your own mobile. For it, you should use the “family” service, designed for up to six family members to share music, movies and subscriptions without having to use the same Apple ID. To create a group, you have to go to settings, click on the name of the owner of the mobile —which appears large at the top of the screen— and choose the “family” option.
Beyond all these parental control tools, it is essential that parents share online activities with their children, promote their critical thinking and generate a climate of trust, according to the Parental mediation guide: for a safe and responsible use of the Internet by minors. As its authors point out, gaining the trust of adolescents every day serves “so they know they can count on you if they have a problem online.”
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