Children, like adults, are spending more time online. At home and school pre-schoolers now use an array of apps and platforms to learn, play and be entertained. While there are reported benefits, including learning through exploration, many parents are still concerned about screen time, cybersafety and internet addiction.
An increasingly popular technical solution is parental control apps. These enable parents to monitor, filter and restrict children’s online interactions and experiences. Parental control apps that work by blocking dangerous or explicit content can be marketed as “taking the battle out of screen time” and giving parents “peace of mind”.
But such a quick fix is inadequate when addressing the complicated reasons behind screen time. Much worse though, the apps expose users to privacy and other safety issues most people aren’t aware of.
What apps do parents use?
Research by Australia’s eSafety Commission shows 4% of preschoolers’ parents use parental control apps. This increases to 7% of parents with older children and 8% of parents with teenagers. Global trends suggest these figures are bound to rise.
Parents download parental control apps onto a child’s mobile phone, laptop or tablet. Most parental control apps enable parents to monitor or restrict inappropriate online content from wherever they are. They provide parents with insights into which sites their child has visited and for how long, as well as who they have interacted with.
Qustudio, for example, claims to keep children “safer from cyber threats” by filtering inappropriate content, setting time limits on use and even monitoring text messages.
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