Spending too much time online is unhealthy for kids
Thanks for an excellent article featured in Servamus: June 2021.
This is just my opinion that a lot of information is provided about the do’s and don’ts, but that not much is given about how to control.
If we as parents hand over a mobile device or computer to our children, I feel that it is our moral obligation to know exactly how it works. The excuse that kids are better at this should not be the way to go through life.
Here are two ways of securing devices for your child.
Visit https://families.google.com/familylink/GOOGLE FAMILY is an app that can be loaded onto both the parents and child’s smartphone, with the parent being the manager. This app, which I use with my 15-year-old daughter, controls a number of functions. All content is restricted according to what I allow: certain apps get blocked completely - the same goes for chats programs etc.
Using Google Maps through this Family app, I am able to keep track of where she is (and her phone).
With WhatsApp being the favourite, I have restricted access to a certain number of hours per day.
Here’s the best, I am even able to control the times when she can use the phone. During school times, she can only use the phone between 07:00 and 19:30 - after 19:30 the phone tells her that it is time for bed, come back at 07:00.
Laptop and computers
My daughter also has a laptop, and with that comes Microsoft Family (can be accessed at https://account.micro-soft.com/family/about).
In my opinion, Microsoft has an even better manner of keeping control of what my child uses her laptop for. Through Microsoft I also receive a weekly e-mail report of what my daughter is doing.
Her school is also very involved with information technology (IT) and that it is compulsory to have a high-end Android tablet. Schooling during these COVID times continued via the school’s online webpage and the D6 communicator.
This is also connected via the Google Family app, keeping me informed of what my daughter is doing.
Her laptop is also connected to my phone with Microsoft Authenticator which puts me in control of what she does on her laptop, ie that changes cannot be made without me using this Microsoft Authenticator to verify that it is actually me wanting to change any settings, or allow access to programs. (This can be accessed at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/ account/authenticator.)
It is important to note that all these Microsoft programs are accessible for free to any parents who have a registered Microsoft account - provided that you have bought the legal software with your PC or laptop.
Access to my daughter’s laptop is also controlled in the same manner as Google Family with the same time limits.
Here is our real-life:
I allowed my daughter access to a cellphone game similar to Microsoft Sims, to build a house, live the family’s life - it even comes with a 14-year age restriction.
One day during my usual cellphone checks, I noticed a new number of a person my daughter was chatting to: “Oh, that’s Michael from ‘The Game’ …” (I cannot remember the real name of the game.)
Unknown to me, this game allowed in-house chatting with other people playing the game, and this Michael had been chatting to her.
Michael turned out to be some character from Nigeria.
We had a very serious talk about how easily information can be obtained from a child, where she stays, where she goes to school etc.
I am always talking about these apps, so if the information is shared, I know that some kids will be safer.