We talk to many parents. We talk to many kids and teens. We talk to and present to schools. We know both sides of the argument to use parental controls and be engaged; or trust your kids and let them learn at their own pace.
Parental Control Facts
So are parental controls a good tool for parents or a waste of time? Are kids generally good and do the right thing? Is it important for them to make mistakes and suffer the consequences? These are all important questions with many variables.
Parental Controls are for PARENTS and not for kids
Most parents incorrectly assume that when enabling parental controls on a specific technology, that is somehow a panacea for all what ails this world and they can stop being bothered, as now the kids will be protected from everything bad! Nothing could be further from the truth.
Let’s explore some basic logic and facts. Why do we insist that our children not play with matches; don’t get into a car with a stranger; don’t answer the door unless you know who is there; don’t drink and drive; don’t watch an R-rated horror movie when they are 8, etc? These are logical examples of everyday parental guidance that we as parents enact purely as a reason to protect our kids. We don’t want them to end up in a hospital, kidnapped, or otherwise damaged. Our parents did this, and cavemen did it. Animals of all types raise their kids with the same simple logic as us.
Simply, our job as parents and caregivers, is to provide a healthy, safe, and nurturing environment for our kids. We will make mistakes in the process, as will they. The goal is to do the best job we can with the tools we have in order to accomplish that goal. Those tools are the collective life experiences we have, our friends and family circles, and other tools that help us when our kids are beyond our reach.
What Has Changed w/ Parental Controls
Kids are curious and we want them to be. However, they don’t learn consequence until much later in their life. They will take many risks and many of them can have grave consequences. Today’s parent has to deal with technology risks that were not around 15 or 25 years ago when this generation of parents were kids and teens. There was no texting, sexting, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook, or camera phones.
For some parents, even the internet was not around. 10+ years ago, taking an inappropriate picture of yourself or another person, it may have ended up in a shoebox under the bed and not uploaded and shared in 5 seconds with 7 billion people. Both are wrong but the difference in the impact is exponential. A hacked account today with your private pictures, a sexting exchange with someone who may be a sex trafficker, an undercover cop, or an underage child, all have lasting and sometimes permanent consequences. Cyberbullying is an everyday occurrence in our schools and kids are getting hurt. A parent in 2015, cannot ignore two quintessential facts: (1) technology is here to stay, and (2) as a parent, one must take an active role in controlling access and knowing what their kids are doing online.
Back “in the day,” parental controls were quite simple. TV on/ TV Off or corded phone from room – goodbye! It has been a little harder now with the rise of mobile internet so measures by parents now, are to be acted upon that were non-existent 10, or even 5 years ago.
Parental Controls are NOT Parents
Sometimes, marketing can give parents a false sense of security as it relates to parental controls. Some feel that by installing parental controls on their kids mobile devices, laptops, or TVs, somehow their oversight duties are over and they can relax!
Nothing can be further from the truth! Parenting is tough and as parents, we know just how tough. Utilizing tools like parental controls, for example, can be a great way for parents to be more informed and aware. However, parental controls work best when they are actively used by parents in tandem with great discussions with their children.
Continue to love your kids. Listen to your children and teens about issues, and utilize tools like Netsanity’s mobile parental controls to learn about patterns and to keep dangerous content and people at arms lengths. No technology should, or ever will, replace good parenting. So enjoy these special times and be aware. Like the old saying goes, Trust, but Verify!
Also published on Medium.