Screen time among kids can be one of the hardest activities for a parent to monitor. Not only is it difficult to keep track of, but it can also lead to behaviors and content that can be very harmful as well. Excessive screen time has been demonstrated to result in attention and behavioral issues, according to recent research; and in some cases, speech and language delay.
Despite some of the negative effects that can occur when screen time becomes obsessive, the positive benefits the internet has to offer to outweigh the bad. There is, without a doubt, a lot of educational and healthy content that can help a child in their development and provide them with skills that will be vital for them to have through digital media. The problem is that much of this is frequently lost in a sea of incredibly unhealthy and dangerous content.
You may have already set up parental controls on an external app or router to monitor your kid’s digital activities but today’s kids are much more internet-savvy than you think and will research ways to get around it. ( Just type in “how do I get around **** internet filter” and you will see pages of tutorials and videos on how to do exactly that.) They want access to any and all online activity just as much as they want their favorite dessert and they can figure out how to bypass parental controls in ways you may never have considered before.
1. Deleting an App
Deleting an app is one of the simplest and most effective ways your kid can bypass a parental filter. Unfortunately, many apps need to be installed individually on multiple devices. Without one centralized program that only you can control and monitor, you’ll wind up having to install it each time it’s deleted—and as any parent will tell you, kids are persistent when they have their mindset on something. Choose an app with central control, and one which notifies you of both deletion and attempted access.
2. Factory Control Resetting
If your kid’s primary online access is through a mobile device, all they have to do is reset their phone to the initial factory settings to get around a filter. With a cloud-based parental control app, you don’t have to worry about changes to the user or settings on the device because it will continue to monitor what the device is doing and what it is trying to access. As long as you have control over the settings in the cloud network, you will be able to monitor what’s going on.
3. Accessing a Non-Network Hotspot
Unfortunately, you can’t be around your kids 24/7 and there are times in which they’ll be able to connect to the internet using a “hot spot” on a friend’s device—one that is likely not being managed by a parental control app. Most mobile carriers are cognizant that this happens with some frequency, so work with their customer service to disable any hotspot functionality on your kid’s device.
4. Accessing Your Network Settings
One of the more obvious places to access parental controls is also frequently one of the more overlooked ones: your own home network. If you haven’t changed the “default password” on your router you may have unknowingly created an opportunity for someone in your home to change DNS settings and access to a parental control app where they can make changes and monitor the ones you make as well. Make certain any and all passwords and PIN combinations are unique and difficult for a child to guess or know.
5. Browsing in Private (Incognito) Mode
Browsing in incognito mode is so easy even your technically challenged grandmother could figure it out. Unless you have hardware or software that thoroughly monitors and filters any and all information being sent through your router, your kid will eventually stumble onto using private browsing. One of the simplest ways to get around this is to disable the use and installation of browsers that allow incognito browsing. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of browsers that don’t allow incognito use these days so you may need to do some research and figure out which one is the most secure for your family.
The challenge of monitoring your children’s internet may feel a bit overwhelming which is why there isn’t a better time than now to invest in a service that will manage internet access and content in your own home and on your family’s mobile devices. The idea of adding another “subscription” to your monthly expenses may not be ideal, but when it comes to your family’s safety it might be one of the most important decisions you can make.