When we ask parents about how they feel about their kids being online, the responses are generally not super positive. Parents aren’t doing backflips of joy at the thought of their kids spending more and more time on screens. To be fair, they’re also not devastated and dismayed at the thought either.
Most parents recognize that screen time is inevitable, but also agree the Internet wasn’t built for kids. They share concerns about how to keep their kids safe, resilient and well adjusted in a digital world. This really resonates with us, and we wanted to share three resources that, when used on their own or together, can help any parent feel better about screen time in early childhood.
Parental Control Routers
Not usually the first device parents think about, routers are arguably the most important device in the house because every device that uses WiFi connects to it. This makes routers the perfect gatekeepers. Using just the router, parents can touch every device in the house to make them safer. And, thankfully, they make routers specifically with child safety in mind.
Parental control routers can make it easy to regulate what kids see online, block websites, apply filters and schedule Internet use (like turning it off during homework time). It’s an extra layer of protection and control over everything your kids see. So even if the parental controls on a tablet fail (which are still important to turn on!), the safety features on the router will prevent access.
A good child safety router can mean more parental peace of mind when our littles are online. If you’re interested in learning more, check out this article on The 9 Best Parental Control Routers of 2022.
Parental Monitoring Apps
For many parents, the idea of keeping a close eye on a child’s online activity (messages, videos, sites, games, social media, etc.) on top of everything else can make their heads spin. Parental apps are designed to give busy parents support and a safety assist in the digital age. While there are many options out there, some popular features include:
Website blocking and content filtering
Screen Time Limits
Review Texts and Messages
Alerts for Concerning Content
Geofencing (alerts when your child leaves home, school, etc.)
We think these apps are a powerful tool in the modern parent’s toolkit. That said, parental monitoring apps are designed to supplement, not replace parenting in the digital age. And parents still need to adapt their parenting style to the increasing online lives kids lead today. While this may seem daunting, it’s actually easier than most think. To make a big impact, parents simply need to make some small adjustments to what they are already doing.
Kids’ lives have gone digital - but they don’t need an IT department at home. They still need their parents. Parents who can guide and prepare them for a childhood and adolescence that will be increasingly spent online.
This starts with intentionally adjusting the ways we talk about safety, consent, empathy and boundaries in a way that will be just as applicable to online experiences. It means recognizing that familiar challenges like grownup content, new people and bullying look differently today - and seeing this as an opportunity to evolve and meet our children where they are. At the Tech-Savvy Parent, we can teach you how to do all these things in a short amount of time. And in concert with tools like parental monitoring routers and apps, give you the confidence to raise resilient kids in the digital age.