You know the importance of parental controls, and you’ve made the effort to be sure that they’re on all of your kids’ mobile devices. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case for the friends who are hanging out with your kids–and that means that all they have to do is look over a friend’s shoulder to see all the content you’ve been so careful to block. How are you supposed to keep your children safe when other parents aren’t using parental controls?
Have clear discussions with your child about your expectations.Make sure your child knows the types of content they aren’t allowed to view and that they understand the consequences for checking out that content without your consent. Explain the reasoning behind your desire to protect them and encourage them to talk to you any time they view inappropriate content on a friend’s device.
Your house, your rules. When a child comes over to your house, they may bring their devices along with them. Tablets and smartphones are so portable that it’s easy for children to bring them along in their bags without your knowledge. If you’re struggling with a friend who keeps bringing those devices to your home, you have several choices:
Restrict device use to common areas. Keep an eye on what the kids are watching and check back in regularly. Keeping the device usage to common areas will often prevent kids from viewing things that they know they aren’t supposed to be watching–and if they’re doing it anyway, their faces may give it away.
Ask that the devices stay at home. If there’s a friend who is a repeat offender, ask that their devices stay at home when they come to visit. Mobile phones can always sit on the counter so that they can maintain contact with their parents if necessary, but not lead your child astray. They’re there to hang out with friends anyway, not to play with their devices!
Maintain your device-free hours. You don’t allow your kids to have their smartphones out at the dinner table, and their friends shouldn’t, either. If you have device-free hours right before bedtime, that applies when friends are over, too–especially if it’s a friend that you know does not have parental controls on their devices.
Don’t allow the child to visit. If you’re struggling with a particular “friend” who simply won’t adhere to your rules, it’s time to put your foot down: if they can’t follow them, they don’t get to come over. It’s better to restrict your child’s access to a disobedient friend than it is to have a child who has been exposed to pornography or violent content against your wishes.
Know who your child is hanging out with. Just like you can restrict certain children from coming to your house, you can prevent your child from going out with them. If you know another parent’s rules are far more lax than your own and you don’t feel confident that your child will adhere to your rules while they’re there, you don’t have to let your child go.
Clearly discussing expectations with your child and letting them know the potential consequences of failing to follow your rules no matter where they might be is the best way to set them up for success. Let your child know that the rules must be followed, then follow through on consequences if necessary.
In one neighborhood, a group of parents got together and decided to make sure that all of their kids devices were protected with Netsanity. So far it has been working out well and the parents have told us that they are resting easier when their children are at another family’s home or hanging out at the bus stop!
You have a lot to consider because most parental control apps and “safe routers” are easy for kids to circumvent. These days, it is so important for parents to be watchful about what your kids and teens are doing on their mobile devices and to be proactive. Remember, even for the best kids it is in their nature to test your limits and to be curious. As parents our job is to make sure that they stay safe and don’t make bad choices which can harm them for years to come. At Netsanity, we pride ourselves in being a trustworthy parental control that is not easily defeated by even the most tech-savvy teens!