Parental control software is an essential part of keeping kids safe online. The internet has so many websites for learning, fun and communication, but we all know that there are people whom our children can encounter online who are dangerous, bullies or kids can find sites that are not appropriate for their age group, whether they are five years old or seventeen.
Parental Control Software
Parental control software such as Qustodio, which I strongly recommend, is used by parents to block certain websites you do not want your children visiting. You can block by specific web address or by general category such as gambling, porn, gaming and many others. I block my child from YouTube during certain times of the day to ensure that homework and chores are done first. I block other sites that are never good for my child to visit 24/7.
Some of you may be asking why I allow my child on YouTube since it has some pretty racy videos tucked in here and there. Another great feature of parental control software like Questodio is that it gives a report of the specific pages my child was on, and it will do so real time so you can see where your child is surfing if you need to have that level of control. My child has been quite responsible with YouTube, and if she wasn’t, I’d have a discussion with her. If the wrong behavior persisted, I’d log into Qustodio and block YouTube indefinitely.
Since Qustodio is online, you can access the reports and setting from any computer. You can also track social media interactions, which is so important these days with child predators using social media to reach out to our kids and gain their trust.
When choosing parental control software, be sure to find the type that has support for mobile devices with apps for iPhone, Android and iPad. Most kids are far more active on their smartphones than they are going online via a computer.
Setting up Qustodio was really easy, and other software I tried wasn’t difficult to use, but some parents may want help. You can get help directly from the software website and if it’s still all Greek to you, then you’ll find an email, chat or phone number to get help. You could also hire an in-home computer specialist for an hour or less to configure the software options and explain more about how it works.
Parental Control Software Limits
Parental control software is not a “set it and forget it” solution, so avoid any software that makes those claims. While Qustodio makes it so I don’t have to be physically looking over my child’s shoulder at all time when she’s online or on her phone, I am still responsible for guiding her and setting boundaries. No software can do that.
Talk to your children frequently, and make an effort not to react too strongly to anything that may shock or upset you. Get more information first, then talk the matter over with your child. Do this, and you’ll be more likely to keep an honest, open dialogue with your kids and you’ll be less likely to be surprised by anything that shows up on the parent control software reports.
Where to Learn More About Online Safety for Kids
- See my article, 6 Internet Safety Tips for Kids, for more detailed information about keeping kids safe online.
- Call your local police, grade school, high school or library to ask them about where you can learn more about how to keep your children safe when they are online.
- Search online using “your state + internet crimes” (replace your state with the state you live in) to find the state state agency for internet crime prevention. Call or email that agency and ask for information resources.
- Read It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens to learn about today’s internet-connected teen.