WeCompare’s Go-to Guide to Parental Controls

Jun 10 . 10 m

Parental controls

Parenting in the Age of Technology

Being a parent is incredibly tough, no doubt about it. Everything that we teach our children (or forget to) can impact the way they grow up, and keeping them safe is our number one priority. That said, no one is perfect. We have all found ourselves at a restaurant at some point, silently begging for a 10-minute reprieve for an adult conversation, passing on our mobile device for some peace. Alternatively, older kids know the passwords to our devices and feel comfortable enough grabbing our mobiles to watch music videos on YouTube. Left unsupervised for even 2 minutes, it is impossible to predict what a child can encounter.

With technology making up a greater part of their lives, we need to find ways to ensure their safety. Gone are the days where cuddles soothed a scraped knee, and the pain dissolved quickly. Today, the hurt caused by online bullying can have lasting effects.

Whether it’s explicit language or lyrics, horror films, inappropriate ads, or content of a sexual nature- the only way to protect impressionable minds is to glue yourself to your kids. Completely unsustainable, right? Thankfully, parental controls allow you to breathe a little easier while giving your children a little independence.

What are Parental Controls?

Parental controls are a software feature that permits content to be restricted based on the user’s age and maturity level. This software can be offered directly by your broadband supplier, on browsers such as Goggle Chrome, hardcoded on your device, apps, video game console, or by downloading a third-party app. The parental controls allow you to select appropriate websites, the types of apps available for download, or control your child’s screen time.

Sky’s Broadband Buddy

When navigating life with a full house, it is a constant battle to manage everyone’s screen time. Sky’s Broadband Buddy App can give you the extra set of eyes you’ve always craved. Not only can you monitor your children’s activities at home, but while out and about using mobile data. Best of all, it’s free of charge!

How can I get the Sky Broadband Buddy App?

By switching to any of our Sky broadband plans, you will gain free access to the app. The Sky Broadband Buddy App allows you to:

  • Filter content based on your child’s age
  • Control your family’s screen time
  • Schedule specific times for internet usage
  • Use screen time rewards for good behaviour
  • Review the sites visited by your child
  • Track your child’s location

How to set up parental controls on your Sky TV

Managing TV content for your little ones has never been easier with Sky TV. Firstly, to set up the parental controls, your Sky box will need to be connected to your landline or broadband plan. Armed with your Sky TV Pin, you can enable the family settings, block channels, or restrict programming based on your child’s maturity level.

Parental Controls and Privacy Settings

With the overwhelming amount of devices, operating systems, browsers, and apps, it is hard to know where to start. So, we will give you a brief overview of the parental controls and privacy settings available on the most popular apps so you can worry a little less.

Choose a Kid Safe Browser

You can choose to enable parental controls on your browser, or if you have younger children, we recommend a kid-safe browser like Kiddle. Just set it as your default browser, and breathe easy. Kiddle editors approve the results and ensure they come from trusted sites. Moreover, with increased font size, the readability is improved, and larger thumbnail images make it simpler to browser for the little ones.

iPhone’s iOS  System

Mac devices, including the iPhone and iPad, have a suite of parental controls found in the Settings by tapping Screen Time. Plus, parents can limit screen time and filter the web, app, and music content on the device with Apple’s safety settings.

Where are the Parental Controls on an iPhone or iPad?

Apple’s parental controls put you in the driver’s seat. Based on your child’s age and maturity level, choose between unrestricted access, limiting adult websites, or allowed websites only. Then, under the content and privacy restrictions, you are presented with options to filter further. You can choose to prevent mature content through TV shows, books, games, or apps with specific ratings. Furthermore, you can restrict streaming films or music videos with explicit content, limit Siri web searches, and prohibit iTunes and App Store purchases.

YouTube

If you would like to shield your child from stumbling upon offensive content, download YouTube Kids. You can feel confident letting them explore independently and ensure a safer online experience. The videos on YouTube Kids are family-friendly. Furthermore, you can customise your profile to allow or restrict the programs they watch and limit their screen time.

If you have tweens who have grown out of kid’s programming, you can enable Restricted Mode on YouTube to filter out content for mature audiences. To turn it on through the Android app, sign in and tap More on the top right-hand side. Then, select Settings > General > Enable or Disable Restricted mode.

To turn on restricted mode from a desktop computer, simply click on your profile picture and click on Restricted Mode. Finally, slide the toggle on or off.

Navigating Parental Controls on Popular Apps

As we already know, there is no guidebook on parenting in the age of technology. Whether you decide to allow your children to use popular apps is up to you. While the legal age to sign up for a Facebook account is 13, there is no way to ensure that a crafty kid with some street smarts won’t lie about his age to bypass the restriction. So, the upside to consenting is that you are involved in the process and can help them set up an account safely. Alternatively, they can set up an account without your permission. Thus, shutting you out completely.

TikTok

Did you know that more than one-third of TikTok users are under the age of 14? If your tween wants to join the app made famous for sharing lip-sync videos, there are ways to use TikTok safely. Nevertheless, there are always risks involved with social channels, so it is important to monitor their activities and encourage safe behavior.

Does TikTok have Parental Controls?

Firstly, kids under 13 can browse videos safely with content curated for younger audiences. In addition, they cannot comment or post any of their own videos. For teens between the ages of 13 and 15, account settings are set to private by default. As a result, only their friends can communicate with them or comment on their posts.

Additional parental controls on TikTok allow you to manage your child’s screentime and block mature content under Profile > Digital Wellbeing. Another great feature is Family Pairing from TikTok. Sync your account to your child’s via a QR code and follow their feed. By seeing what they are watching, be it challenges or memes, you will be able to involve yourself in their lives. Talk to them and ensure that they aren’t being persuaded into doing anything unsafe.

Snapchat

Teens and adults alike are big fans of this messaging app. It allows the user to add fun filters to photos, and once viewed, the images, or snaps, become inaccessible. The temporary nature of the snaps has reportedly tempted some teens and adults to use the app for sending explicit photos. Furthermore, making it difficult to monitor your child’s activities on the app. While it is illegal to share a screenshot of a Snapchat photo, it does not prevent the snaps from being copied with a screen gab. So, inform your kids that disappearing photos cannot guarantee that they will not be stolen and shared.

Are there Parental Controls on Snapchat?

Unfortunately, without installing a third-party app to monitor your child’s activities, you will only be able to manage the settings for privacy. However, this can be changed by your child should they know how to reset them. To recap, here is a list of what you can do:

  • Set their Profile so that they are only contacted by friends
  • Ensure that their content is only viewed by friends
  • Remove the option for them to be found through Quick Add
  • Prevent others from seeing their location with Ghost Mode
  • Remove the option for others to find them via their mobile number
  • Ability to report inappropriate or offensive content
  • Delete your account

For a complete guide to navigating the app and managing your privacy on Snapchat, you can download their Parent’s Guide to Snapchat.

Facebook and Instagram

Like TikTok, both Facebook and Instagram attract a young audience. Unfortunately, though, you can only adjust the privacy settings on these apps. First, by choosing to make your account private, your feed will only be seen by those who follow you. As such, you are in charge of approving or denying friend or follow requests. If someone added proves to be sketchy or abusive, remove them! Just tap the three dots next to the user’s name, and remove them without altering them. Furthermore, if you suspect a user to be dangerous, you can report the user.

How to Make Your Facebook Account Private

  • On your desktop, select the arrow on the top right corner of your Facebook profile
  • Choose Settings & Privacy in the drop-down menu
  • Settings > Privacy
  • Select who can see your future posts
  • Close to save changes

How to Set Your Instagram Account to Private

  • Open the Instagram app
  • From your Profile, go to the 3 lines on the top right > Settings
  • Click on Privacy > Account Privacy
  • Slide the toggle to Private to set your account to private

You can also control the comments by enabling the filter to hide offensive comments or block specific users.

A good rule of thumb is to follow them from your own Instagram account. This way, you can follow their feed and monitor the comments. Another great feature introduced to ward off bullies is Instagram’s Restrict option. Now, the user can restrict someone, and all of their future comments, from being seen by others. Best of all, the bully is left in the dark. The comment is still visible to them, and the user doesn’t need to worry about being targeted again.

How to Block or Report Someone on Instagram

To block or report someone on Instagram, visit the user’s profile and tap the three dots on the top right, followed by restrict, block, or report.

How to Turn off Commenting on Instagram

If you would like to ward off unwanted comments, you can turn off commenting. Just tap on the three dots above the post and click Turn Off Commenting. For Instagram Stories, after posting, click on More > Story Settings and click to allow replies from people you follow.

Takeaway

Teaching your child that the same rules apply online as they do offline is paramount. Just as we require them to wear a helmet to go skateboarding, setting up a social media account with the proper settings in place is essential. Keep in mind that if your child is tech-savvy or old enough to seek out the answers, most of the parameters that you’ve set up can be undone. And while there is no hero’s guide to parenting in the age of technology, we can only try to keep the conversations open. Speak honestly about the dangers online. To be wary of accepting friend requests from people they don’t know. Moreover, to never give out personal information, and most importantly, once their photos are posted online, those images become public.

If you haven’t enabled parental controls on your kids’ apps yet, set them up immediately. The world can be a scary place, and under the cloak of anonymity, cyberspace can be especially cruel.

 

 

WRITTEN BY

Zoe Theofilou