Parental controls and avoiding inappropriate content

How can you let your children use your smartphone or tablet without accessing inappropriate content? Read how to use parental controls here. 

When a young child is using a tablet or smartphone one of the simplest ways you can control their use is by activating airplane mode.  This is easily done through ‘Settings’ and will mean that your child cannot access the Internet (thus restricting access to new apps and any in-app purchases).

Sadly though, as children get older this simple measure is no longer enough. Before long they will work out how to switch airplane mode off and unless you have installed parental controls, they will then have access to the whole of the World Wide Web (a scary thought for any parent).

Girls textingWhen your child is online it is hard to monitor exactly what they are looking at (unless you look over their shoulder the entire time) and sadly the things they see online can bother children of all ages.  Filters can be helpful in reducing the chances of your child coming across something upsetting online.  However, no filter or parental control tool is 100% effective. Many of the risks that young people face online are because of their own and other’s behaviour.  It is important that we (as parents, carers and educators) talk to children about staying safe online.

Setting parental controls for the Internet is simple (check what your Internet provider offers) and will protect your children when they are online; most allow you to block the websites that you do not want your child to view. Remember that as children get older they get much more computer savvy so it is worth checking occasionally that the sites are still blocked!

Parental controls on your broadband

This offers you protection for ANY device while it is in your home. It also offers customisable filter levels and allows you to set filter times. Note: These controls only protect website use (not downloading of inappropriate apps, games etc.) and they are not perfect – some content which you seem inappropriate may slip through.  You should revisit your settings annually (as your children grow.)

Safe browsers / search engines

Activate Google SafeSearch if you always use Google (on a computer or mobile or tablet). You can turn this on from any results page. Check parental control settings on browsers (e.g. Internet Explorer, Google Chrome) and set up child-Safe browsers. You can use your own browser as normal or disable alternatives on a tablet/mobile.  You can also set up a filter for YouTube through their app.

Friendly Wifi can help keep your children safe onlineIf children are taking their devices out of the 
home, bear in mind that they could connect to public Wi-Fi.  Look out for the “Friendly
Wi-Fi” symbol which shows that the Wi-Fi has 
filters in place to limit access to pornographic content.

In addition to the content filtering offered by your Internet service provider, many devices, such as games consoles, smartphones and tablets, have their own parental controls. Some allow you to limit spending or restrict access to apps based on age rating.  Likewise, many web browsers have built-in tools and features to help you control the kinds of content users can view.

Beware of websites that automatically log you in and never give your child, or let them see, the password required to authorise any payments. Avoid 1 click purchase on sites such as Amazon – it is much better practice to have a password set up to confirm purchases.

In addition to controlling Internet access we would highly recommend that you control your child’s access to apps and their ability to make app/ in-app purchases.  If you do not have these controls in place it can not only be costly, but it can also lead to children accessing content that is not age appropriate. Setting up appropriate controls is easily done through ‘Settings’ on your device. Talk to your children about the importance of being careful around accidentally buying things. It can be unclear to them when ‘extras’ are chargeable so encourage your child to ask if they are not sure. It is also a good idea to use iTunes or Google Play vouchers rather than your credit card in app stores.

There is so much amazing and useful information on the internet. At Fundamentally Children we want every child to have access to this resource, without being subject to inappropriate content or images. For more information see our articles on protecting your device.


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