The Blue Whale challenge, the Cinnamon challenge, the Five Finger Fillet – all seemingly innocent names for some of the most dangerous internet challenges that have even resulted in the deaths of several children.
While the prevalence of these incidents reflects the increasingly predatory nature of the online-world our children are exposed to, forcing a complete cease and desist of digital devices in the household is not solving the root of the problem. As parents, how should we protect our children from the perils of the internet? The pervasiveness of technology necessitates that we use technology itself as a tool to counter its misuse – Fighting fire with fire. This tool comes in the form of parental control applications.
When it comes to protecting our little ones from the threats of the internet, is there really ‘an app for that’? What are the benefits of parental control apps? We discuss all these and more.
Elevating your parenting game with parental control apps
1. Stepping in at the first sign of danger
Imagine a world where we, as parents can pinpoint the exact moment our child develops and engages in risky internet behaviour. That world, thanks to the existence of parental control apps, is a reality. Many such apps allow you to blacklist specific keywords and receive alerts if your child is looking these words up. Taking it a step further, some apps help to flag instances of risky behaviour on your child’s social media platforms and can alert you when their algorithms detect these behaviour patterns.
When you do receive such notifications, it is up to you to step in and address the issue with your child. Parental control apps facilitate the process of helping you identify the ‘red flags.’ It is crucial for you to then get to the bottom of the ‘why’ of your child’s behaviour and take the necessary measures to address the issues.
2. Understanding the red flags
As much as we would like to have a complete understanding of the inner workings of our children’s minds, it is simply impossible. For example, our app, plano, has a tracking feature, as part of your child’s progress page, that tracks your child’s device activity*. This can shed some light on which apps your child frequents revealing some of his priorities and preoccupations in life.
Serving as an extra pair of eyes and providing some insight into your child’s activities can make a world of difference. For example, if you notice a worrying change in your child’s behaviour, this information can help clue you in as to why the change is happening. This can come in handy especially with teenagers or pre-teens who may not be as vocal as younger children.
3. Helping to modify excessive and risky device-use behaviours
Beyond the restrictive elements of parental control apps however, there are some apps in the market that bring an element of empowerment and education to the table. For example, our app, planoApp, was developed to modify behaviour in children to reduce myopia related risk factors, such as excessive near work and lack of outdoor activity and empower healthier device usage. Through a rewards-based points system, it reinforces positive behaviour and encourages children to develop a healthier relationship with their devices.
Apps like plano put the onus on children themselves to be responsible for their own health and help modify their device use habits, enhancing their entire lifestyle.
At the end of the day, parental control applications are designed to help us enhance our parenting game. A quick look at the aforementioned benefits of such apps will tell you that there is no all-encompassing ‘app for that’ that can be a perfect substitute for you as a parent. Such apps serve to help you better understand your child’s device use behaviours and helps you adjust how you parent accordingly.
Technology is a wonderful thing. For children growing up in this day and age, technology brings the world to their fingertips and engages them. Ultimately, it is up to you to educate your child on developing a healthy relationship with technology and ensuring that your little one reaps all its benefits!
*Only available on Android