You probably already know that your kids spend a good percentage of their time online but did you know that they spend most of that time watching videos? Well, that’s what Kaspersky’s data shows. The cybersecurity outfit found that children spent a lot of time on platforms like YouTube and Twitch. We found a latimes.com article corroborating this; it said that 56% of 8 to12-year-olds and 69% of teenagers watch online videos every day. It also reported that the 8 to 12-year-olds spent about 5 hours of their day watching online videos while the teenagers spent approximately 8 hours of their day on the same activity. Now one just has to wonder: what on God’s blue earth are they watching?! How do you control what your child watches on the internet?
N.B: Before you read on, we would like you to know that there’s a video on this topic at the end of the page. Feel free to scroll down to watch it if you’d prefer a video. Remember to leave us a note in the comments.
Well, to answer the first question, Kaspersky’s data also showed that kids watched a lot of vlogs and streamed games online. Pretty harmless, right? Maybe; but a parent would still be under pressure to ensure that their kids are being exposed to the right kind of content. For instance, videos with people using strong language, advocating practices that go against your family’s values, promoting bogus claims and schemes and so on are the kind of stuff you wouldn’t want your children watching. Thankfully, there a number of ways to give you some control over what your child watches on the internet and we’ll be discussing them presently – so hang in there.
The following measures should help you take control of the quality of your child’s screen time.
Make use of filtering technologies
Filtering tech is generally made up of software that blocks out unwanted content. You can set it up to screen out harmful content from your kids’ devices. Filters can allow you to create a whitelist .i.e. a list of sites that your kids are allowed to visit. This prevents content from any other sites from showing when your kids browse the net. It can also allow you to create a blacklist which is a list of sites that you don’t your kids accessing.
You can install these on your child’s devices and use a password to protect it so that only you can disable the program. To gain some control over what your child watches on the internet using filters, you can download client-side filters. You can also talk to your internet service provider about what family-friendly services they offer. You can make use of search engine filters; Google, Yahoo, Alta Vista are a few search engines with such a feature.
Consider kid-friendly search engines
These are search engines created to help children surf the world wide web without threats to their security and innocence. With search engines like these installed on your little one’s device, you can breathe easy as you watch your kids learn and explore on the internet. Some kid-safe search engines include: Kid’s Search Engine and YouTube Kids.
Older kids can find their way around the first two measures we’ve talked about. You’re going to have to make use of the parental control feature to control what they watch online. It’s included in most satellite television services, computers, mobile devices, search engines, YouTube and other software. With parental controls, you can screen out inappropriate content and set time limits on your child’s usage of an app(s). You can also decide how they use their devices and monitor online activities and locations. You can check out the Keep Me safe app. It has an easy-to-use parental control feature that lets you see what apps your kid is using. It also tells you how much time he’s spending on them.
Many parents often feel like they’re spying on their kids or invading their privacy with all these control measures, especially with older kids. We’d like to tell you that you’re a human being who appreciates boundaries. It’s understandable that you’re feeling this way. You can let them know that you’re watching and discuss the whys. You can even tell them that the more responsibly they behave online, the laxer your supervising will become. However, taking control of the things your kids are fed online is pretty much like making sure that the food they eat is nutritious and balanced. You wouldn’t want your kids to be fed junk, would you? Always consider it from this perspective whenever your conscience wants to work overtime.
Having said all that, it’s important to note that no amount of tech can effectively replace the time you spend with your kids in a one-on-one conversation. Take the time to know your children. Engage them in conversations and allow them to set the pace but know when to put your foot down. Teach them your values and encourage them to practice those values. This way, whenever the random video slips past all the defenses you’ve put in place, your kids will know not to watch them and will come straight to you. And when this happens, be sure to take action; flag those videos as offensive, report them and block the source from accessing your child’s device.