Television, smartphones, the internet, and video games serve as the main sources of entertainment and education for children of all ages. At the same time, too much screen time has harmful side effects. The pervasive nature of our digital devices has huge consequences on the eye health of everyone, including children. As a parent, how can you set the optimum level of screen time your child is allowed in a day?

Recommended screen time

Among some of the guidelines issued by The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP),

  • Children younger than 18 months of age should not be exposed to the screen in any form except the occasional video chat with family or friends. Children aged 18 to 24 months of age can have some screen time with parents, and should only watch high-quality programming with their parents who can explain to them what they are watching.
  • Preschoolers (2 to 5 years old) should be limited to an hour a day of educational programs with parents or caregivers
  • Children aged 6 years old and over should have more physical activities and sleep with limited screen time, regularly monitored by parents.

It is important that you do not completely restrict your children from their devices. Rather, introduce some changes to their lifestyle. With everyone in the family (even the adults!) involved in taking active measures to protect their eyes, your children will be encouraged to do more. Here are some ways you can do this:

How to have productive screen time as a family.

Be active with your children.

Encourage your children to read books, play board games or even cook by doing these activities with them! Create a space in your home where everyone can play and read together. Involve your child in cooking by asking them to help you in the kitchen. This will expose your child to how fun living an active lifestyle away from digital devices is. And the best part is, you can join your children in all the fun and take a break from your screens!

Turn off all devices during homework, meal time and sleep time.

You can better enforce this by following this rule yourself, especially during meal and sleep time. When it comes to sleeping, research has shown that using digital devices before sleeping, delays your body’s internal clock and impedes the release of the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin, making it more difficult for you to fall asleep.

Hence, this rule should be especially enforced before your child’s bedtime, to ensure they are well-rested and fresh for school the next day. Like sleeping, meal time and homework should not be disrupted by the use of devices. Ensure that these rules are followed as a family to make the enforcement of this rule much easier. These are important hours of everyone’s day and dedicated for a specific activity, and any distraction would only worsen everyone’s eye health.

Treat screen time as a privilege and not a punishment.

As a parent, it can be tempting to nag at your children and punish them for indulging in watching the television or playing video games. However, studies show that positive reinforcement, i.e. rewards, better resonates with children than punishment. It is hence more productive to treat using digital devices as a privilege that is given when all their work is done well than take it away as a punishment for bad behaviour.

Monitor your child’s screen time using parental control apps.

There are parental control apps in the market that assist parents to monitor and keep an eye on the activities of their children. Such apps serve as an extra pair of eyes on your children’s device-use. Apps like plano even enable children to earn ‘points’ for following good device habits which can be traded for rewards in the plano shop. Parents can participate in experiencing these rewards together with their children! Downloading such apps can monitor your children without having to be physically with them all the time.

Make a family TV timetable.

A fixed schedule for the entire family not only serves as bonding time but can help introduce a TV-routine that your child can get used to.

In essence, participating in indoor and outdoor activities away from devices as a family, scheduling pockets of time where everyone should not be using their devices, and introducing a TV-routine which everyone in the family follows can drastically improve your parenting style when it comes to protecting your child from too much screen time. All children want to do is to have fun and it is up to parents to show that they can do so without being behind the screen all the time!

The first iPhone in the world was released in 2007. By 2025, it is estimated that 3 in 4 mobile connections will operate on smartphones. The smartphone boom is real and has been much raved about – for good reason. Smartphones have undoubtedly made our lives exceedingly easier and more convenient.

On your phone, you can pay your bills, check your email, and perform numerous other tasks in a manner that saves time and reduces manual labour. With information and services so within reach of our fingertips, we become efficient and more connected than before.

However, this might cost us more than we know. These increased conveniences may be causing us to become stupider.

“What was I doing earlier?”: Diminished Attention Span

One of the most common effects smartphones have on users is being a distraction.

The flipside of on-the-go accessibility of information and entertainment is that it feeds our need to be constantly occupied and updated. Find yourself looking at your phone once every few minutes? The fear of missing out on our friends’ updates and the desire to be doing something with your time, all the time, is driving us to become more glued to our screens. Our social media timelines, curated news feeds, and even advertisements are catered to our tastes through algorithms, designed to keep your eyes glued to the screen.

Research shows that even when you are not using your smartphone, its presence itself is enough to impact your task performance significantly. Participants with their phones in their pockets or on the table in front of them while performing the tasks did worse than those who had their phones in another room.

And even if you’ve managed to resist the temptation of checking your phone, beware – its mere presence could affect the amount of attention you have to complete your tasks at hand.

This issue has ramifications in productivity, and it’s clear that this is an actual problem with the development of numerous productivity applications like Forest which have become more popular over the years.

“Why can’t I perform this task?”: Restricted Motor Skills

Gone are the days of hitting that ‘7’ button four times to type the letter ‘s’. The touchscreen interface has streamlined the smartphone user experience to tapping and swiping. All’s well for ease of use and convenience, but there’s a dark side to this simplicity.

Children raised on an electronic diet may lose out on engaging in hands-on activities and play. Constantly engaging with a two-dimensional screen means that children lack development in both sensorimotor and visual-motor skills. To put it simply, this could affect children’s development in basic activities like writing and information-processing, which could impair their learning as they grow.

Even adults are having a hard time. The increased use of technology could lead to future doctors have difficulty in picking up the dexterity needed for surgery, as they face trouble performing essential surgical tasks like sewing.

“I can’t remember!”: Fading Memory

Ever forgot the name of a song you liked? With a few searches online you typically would be able to find the answer. Gradually, over time, you may become increasingly reliant on the internet to find the answers to your questions – after all, if you forget, you can simply search it up. With such easy access to information, smartphone usage has been related to less learning and retention.

Searching for answers on the internet has also given rise to the aptly named “Google effect”, which is when we become so dependent on the search engine for information that it affects our ability to recall. Hence, when faced with difficult questions, we tend to recall where we can find the information needed, instead of the answer itself.

A Balancing Act

It may seem like smartphone usage only causes our cognitive functions to deteriorate, but don’t worry. Technology can be harnessed to develop our cognitive functioning and facilitate our learning! It’s all a matter of balance.

The problem is when devices are overused beyond healthy limits, which contributes to the impairment of our ability to think. It’s essential for devices to be used in moderation, starting from a young age, so the cognitive costs of heavy smartphone use can be minimised when growing older.

A viable solution to tackle this problem at its root would be a parental control application. Ensuring your child takes regular device breaks is the first step towards lifelong healthy device usage.

The dreaded time has come – your children are starting to clamour for smartphones of their own. It’s a big investment to make. What you choose should give you value for your money, while supporting a healthy and appropriate technology diet for your kids.

It may seem like a mammoth task with the many choices available, but we’re here to help! Read on to find out 3 important factors to note when making a decision on which smartphone to get for your child.

Long Battery Life

Technology has advanced significantly since the first phone was invented, but the core purpose of phones remains the same – to communicate. The issue of patchy reception has been around since the inception of landlines, but devices nowadays face a new problem – battery life.

Ideally, your child’s phone should last a full day, throughout school and extracurricular activities, on a single charge. Portable chargers and power plugs aside, what’s the point of a phone if you’re unable to contact your child in moments you really need to? Furthermore, heavy phone usage on activities your kids may love, such as video streaming and playing games, is likely to drain batteries even faster.  

Long-lasting battery life is essential for your child to remain contactable at all times. Effective and powerful applications and features are of not much use if you constantly have to charge your phone up.

Durability and Robustness

Prepare yourself: Your child is probably going to drop his or her phone – a lot. Unbreakable Nokias are now a relic of the past. The repercussions of dropping a smartphone range in severity from a cracked screen to loss in functionality, bringing pain for not just your child but for your wallet as well.

The importance of the availability of screen protectors and protective casing is often overlooked. They play a big role in reducing the risk of damage to your phone in any circumstances. Thus, it may be a good consideration to look for common phone models that readily have such supplies available.

The size of the smartphone matters too – large-screen models are more likely to slip out of your children’s hands compared to a compact phone that can fit easily inside the pocket. However, kids used to computers or tablets may prefer a larger screen providing better visuals. Hence, it’s important for you to weigh your priorities with your child’s concerns in deciding on a particular phone to purchase.

Operating System: Android vs Apple?

Google’s recent troubles with Huawei have sent shockwaves through both the tech and consumer world, and its ramifications on app accessibility for future users may have left many feeling worried about the uncertain turn of events, and if such a happening may affect them in future.

Beyond aesthetics, your chosen operating system has more implications than you may imagine. The functionality and type of applications you use may be affected by whether you use Android or Apple systems. Particularly, if you wish to install parental control applications in your kid’s device to manage their device use, you should take note of the availability and accessibility of such apps on the different platforms.

Recently, some parental control applications found to have violated Apple’s Mobile Device Management guidelines were removed from the App Store. Mobile Device Management, in essence, is a software developed for companies to secure personal devices in the workplace. Citing privacy concerns, many established parental control apps like OurPact have been expelled from the App Store. In contrast, the Android platform has not faced such issues.

Our plano parental control app has worked useful solutions around this problem. Instead of opting to outrightly control, features have also been designed to cultivate and empower children to learn and practice healthy device habits. When it’s time for an eye break, instead of a ‘forced’ break by locking their phones, kids enter a breakroom where they are encouraged and rewarded for taking a break.

If the ability to download a parental control app is one of your main concerns, a phone that supports the Android OS may provide a wider range of options for you to choose from.

Switch off, shut out. Digital detoxes seem all the rage to de-stress and get away. The general awareness is that moving away from technology to be in touch with nature, to relax and rejuvenate is generally understood to be good for you.

We know that too much device usage can be detrimental for our psyche, so much so that we understand the need to disconnect. But are we aware of the exact repercussions of smart device usage? Here, we examine the truth of whether, and how, smart devices affect our mental health.

Unable to let go: Device Addiction.

Nothing speaks of the age we live in quite like the problems we face. A quintessential 21st-century problem would be “nomophobia”; the fear and anxiety experienced when we go out without our phone. We have become so dependent on our gadgets that life without them seems somewhat unimaginable.

In a 2018 study, adults surveyed in the United Kingdom checked their phones every 12 minutes in a day. When faced with the prospect of going without the internet, about a third of respondents stated that they would feel “lost” or “cut off”, a troubling sign of our dependency.

One big driver of potential addiction is social media – so much so that even former executives have come out to relay their concerns. With curatorial algorithms, pull-to-refresh features and blinking notifications, social media apps are pulling users even further into their depths. With every like and message, we get positively stimulated, which hooks us in to keep checking our phones in wait of another dopamine rush.

In fact, we have become so reliant on our devices that we may even experience our phone buzzing when it’s actually not. Known as phantom phone sensations, it was found that phone usage patterns were indicative of whether such sensations were felt or not.

Negative Emotions.

Alarmingly, it doesn’t just stop at addiction.

An indication would be how smartphone addiction has been found to be correlated with depression. For adolescents in particular, with more time spent on media like smartphones and social media, the more likely they were to develop depressive symptoms, and even suicide. Being separated with your phone may even result in greater anxiety.

The connectivity brought about by smart devices means that you’re also able to be constantly contactable and in touch with work. This may make it hard for employees to disengage from work after working hours, bringing along with it higher stress.

These findings, though, come with precautions. As your science teacher probably warned you, correlation is not the same as causality. It may be difficult to prove whether your smart devices truly lead to a higher probability of your mental health worsening. However, the amount of research done in this area should be enough to incite concern about it.

Developing Healthy Device Habits.

In fact, what influences how your mental health is affected by your devices is your relationship with your device itself, or how involved you are.

Developing a healthy relationship with your devices from young is important in our increasingly technological world. But, for parents, it’s hard to manage your children if you’re not with them constantly. That’s where parental control applications can plug the gap. You can be assured that your kids are using their devices within limits, even if you’re not by their side.

So put that phone away – your devices may give you some instant gratification, but in the long-run, your mental well-being may be at stake.

You’re lying down in bed, about to turn in for the night, and you reach for your phone to scroll through social media… For an hour or two. Does this bedtime routine sound familiar?

If it is, you should be concerned – your smartphone might be preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep. Increased internet accessibility may be helping us keep up with the world and be more productive, but too much device use may be wreaking havoc on our sleep.

‘Light’-ening your Sleep Cycle.

The term “blue light” may ring a bell, with the availability of blue light filters on devices. While naturally present in sunlight, blue light is typically emitted from digital devices such as smartphones and computer screens, as well as in energy efficient lighting. The light emitted from your phone is not only glaring but also detrimental to your sleep cycle.

Blue light exposure, particularly at night, suppresses a hormone called melatonin. Not to be confused with the skin pigment melanin, melatonin has a hand in influencing your circadian rhythm, or your biological clock. Reduced levels of melatonin could disrupt your sleep cycle, which may result in increased difficulty in falling and staying asleep, and waking up more frequently during the night.

Wake Me Up: Hitting the Snooze Button on Phones.

Going to the toilet, feeling hunger pangs or hearing your alarm sound in the unearthly hours of the morning are all common reasons to wake up from your sleep. In recent years, responding to notifications received on your smartphone is becoming an increasingly common factor in rousing people from their sleep.

Our desire to be constantly connected may ironically be contributing to a decline in our mental and physical welfare. In a 2013 study, 47% of college students were reported to wake up to reply text messages, while 40% did so to answer phone calls. This can result in students losing out on an average of 46 minutes of extra sleep per week, time which otherwise could have led to better productivity, and positive mental well-being.

I’m So Tired: Poor Sleep Quality.

And it’s not only the amount of sleep you’re getting that suffers – the quality of your sleep may be impacted as well.

The trends are startling. Longer screen time has been found to be associated with decreased sleep efficiency; the amount of time you’re actually asleep out of the total time you spend on your bed. Phone usage in the bedroom itself has been linked to increased sleep latency (the amount of time you take to fall asleep after turning off the lights) and increased fatigue.

The effects of poor sleep quality go beyond tiredness. Long-term health issues that are associated with bad sleep include hypertension, increased cholesterol, and increased risk of cancer.

Good night, Sleep Tight: Switching Off.

Sleep is such an essential part of our lives – rest and rejuvenation are important for us to live to our best. It’s time we start taking the notion of lights-off seriously, by switching off both the lights and our devices to take a rest for the day.

Blue light filters, and restricting device usage before bedtime through using a parental control app are good ways to start inculcating good habits in your children from a young age, for a lifetime.

Your games and social media can wait. A good night’s sleep can’t. Switch off your phones to power up for the next day with a restful sleep!

Anonymous and omnipresent. Gone are the days when you could only meet bullies when you are in their vicinity. The digital age has pushed bullying into the online realm, where the reach of bullies can be extended to anytime and any place.

The phenomenon of cyberbullying is far from uncommon. In the United States, 59% of teenagers surveyed had experienced cyberbullying, in one form or another. Name-calling, public shaming, being threatened, and being the subject of false rumours are all forms of harassment that can be carried out online.

In our hyper-connected age, our children may be vulnerable to cyberbullying. Read on to find out why, how, and the extensive impact that cyberbullying has on children.

Smartphones and Social Media.

Smartphones are everywhere – for a new generation raised on an electronic diet, it’s almost an anomaly not to possess one. Kids who own smartphones, however, have been found to have a higher risk of being cyberbullied.

Having a smartphone greatly increases the amount of digital activity that children can engage in. Advancements in mobile technology have opened up new modes of communication, like messaging and video calls, allowing kids to interact with others faster and more easily than before.

Furthermore, the anonymity afforded by social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook means bad behaviour is difficult to track. Anonymous accounts can be easily created, without incriminating bullies in real-life. This opens the gateway for inconsiderate and toxic actions towards others, without fear of actual repercussions.

Harassment has never been so easy. Hurling hate at someone, for example through posting hurtful comments or sharing content mocking a victim, requires little effort.

Symptoms of Being Cyberbullied.

Signs of cyberbullying may vary in children, but the following are warning signs worth watching out for:

  • Displays upset or frustrated behaviour
  • Lessened interest in favourite activities
  • Uneasiness in going to school or being in a public space
  • Unwilling to share about online activity
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Loss of appetite or disturbed sleep
  • Self-harm behaviour

How Cyberbullying Can Affect Your Kids.

Cyberbullying should not be overlooked. It may be viewed as less severe compared to traditional bullying due to its online nature, but that’s not the case. The effects are alarming – and you should take notice.

Victims are more likely to be plagued with physical issues, such as difficulty sleeping and suffering from stomachaches and headaches. Beyond bodily health problems, research has also found that cyberbullying is associated with depression, and victims of cyberbullying, unfortunately, are more likely to attempt suicide.

The mental and physical toll that cyberbullying takes on victims is no small matter. As parents, we should be aware of the possible red flags to take note of, to manage the problem before it escalates.

Look out for our next article on our tips on what to do to prevent or stop your child from being a victim of cyberbullying!

Look up, and look around you: How many people wearing glasses do you see? Spectacles may be making a comeback as a fashion statement, but myopia (short-sightedness) is a growing global problem. In Asia today, the figures are startling – up to 80% of Singaporean teenagers, 90% of Chinese adults, and 97% of young South Koreans are reported to have myopia.

How did this condition become so prevalent? Is there any way to prevent the development of myopia, or stop its progression? We examine how, why and what can be done.

How myopia begins.

Myopia usually develops in childhood, when the eye is still growing. As the child grows, the length of the eyeball may change. If it becomes too long, light will focus short of the retina, and result in blurred vision.

Genetics is understood to play a role in the development of myopia – if both parents have myopia, you’re 8 times more likely to develop the condition. In fact, mounting research has shown that myopia is also largely explained by environmental factors. These include excessive near work, how close you hold your reading materials and the lack of time spent outdoors. While parents mean well, some experts suggest that the high value placed on education and technology in many Asian countries has resulted in children spending more time indoors fixating on their books, computers and smart devices.

It has been found that children who spend at least two hours outside every day have a reduced risk of developing myopia. Bright natural light, physical activity and looking into the distance rather than at close objects are believed to be important protective factors.

What can be done to treat myopia?

The most well-known method of correcting short-sightedness is to wear a pair of spectacles or contact lenses, and in some cases, adults opt to have laser surgery. But, there is no cure to myopia. About 20% of people with myopia are at risk of developing a severe form of the condition, that may lead to irreversible blindness.

Is there a way we can prevent or slow the development of myopia? Increasing outdoor activity might just be the answer.

The UV light exposure from outdoor activity releases a chemical called dopamine, which is said to inhibit eye length growth. When we’re outdoors, we also look into the distance more, instead of being glued onto our phone screens.

Schools have taken action in ensuring kids get their dose of sunshine by including mandatory outdoor education in their curriculum. Some have even extended break times to increase the amount of time children spend outside. Taking it one step further are schools in China, by building transparent glass classrooms so that children can be exposed to natural light.

To be truly sustainable, a cultural change is needed. Children need to learn from a very young age, that they should spend more time outdoors and less time on their phones. There are simple ways to encourage such behaviour, like using an egg timer to regulate breaks, or a parental control app that encourages healthy device usage. Starting young is most important – myopia is irreversible. Prevention and slowing its progression is the key to managing myopia!

All of us parents face our own struggles when it comes to parenting and help is always appreciated. Sometimes, help can come in the form of an app, but how much help is too much?

An app or two never hurt, right?

We all need some extra help at some point in our parenting journey. No matter what struggles we face or when we face them, help is always appreciated. Some people prefer help in the form of a nanny. But in today’s digital age, digital problems require digital solutions. Parent apps can be a useful tool, but we ought to use them responsibly too.

The extra parent.

The app market is teeming with parent apps that promise to help you in your parenting journey. Each of them serve different purposes and provide different services, so it’s no surprise if you want to make the most of each of them. Here are some apps on the market that might be beneficial to you for different purposes:

1. plano

plano is an app that helps you keep track of your child’s myopia progression and smart device use. The app has some cool functions – it reminds your child to take eye breaks, and detects whether your child is using their devices in low light conditions.

If your child is using their phones in dim light, the app will prompt your child to move to another location with better lighting conditions*. As a parent, you can schedule specific timings to keep the phone away*. You also have the ability to block certain apps or browsers to keep your child safe from harmful content. The best part is that if your child follows all these prompts and reminders, he/she earns points which can be used to request for items or activities away from the screen. From gymnastics lessons to scooters, your child can experience a variety of activities and play with some fun toys!

2. S’moresUp App

Does your kid help around with household chores? Well, S’moresUp helps today’s modern, digital parents manage their children’s everyday chores. On the app, you can add all your family members involved in the household chores. You can create the chores on the app, schedule them, and set reminders for your child to do them. Once your child has completed his/her chores, they get S’mores reward points! As a parent, you can set up rewards that correspond to the number of S’mores. For instance, 100 S’mores earns them a trip to the zoo, or 50 S’mores gets them a new book. 

3. Duolingo

We parents love an educational app, and what’s cooler than teaching your child another language? Duolingo is an app that teaches a variety of languages from French to Vietnamese to your child. It’s also a great tool to help you learn something cool and new alongside your child which makes for a great bonding activity. Language learning also comes in the form of a game where your child will definitely have loads of fun crunching levels and earning stars!

Caution though!

As with everything, there’s always a limit to how far you can go. In this case, how far you can go with parent apps. While we understand the want and need to manage our child’s device use, constantly looking over their shoulder can prove worrisome. As much as we believe that children need guidance, they should also be afforded their own privacy. We parents need to trust our child to make their own decisions. Sandra Petronio, a professor of communication studies, notes that too much surveillance on our children’s actions can infringe their privacy and this may implicate parent-child relationships negatively.

Even if we use parent apps to remind our children of their duties, we shouldn’t over-do it as well. They need time for themselves to explore and cultivate their own hobbies and interests. And while online learning is fun and convenient, that can never replace the human interaction of learning in a classroom with teachers and friends.

There always needs to be balance in our lives, and our children’s lives too. So while a parent app or two can go a long way, we need to be sure that we’re using them sensibly too.  

*These functions are subject to your device’s technical capabilities

The old adage goes, “spare the rod, spoil the child”. You can  spare the rod, but sometimes it’s better to talk to them about their feelings instead.

The power of words.

It’s a weekday night and you’ve just cooked dinner for your children, but somehow that particular dish doesn’t entice their taste buds for the evening. It’s been a tiring day, and to top it off, your child starts to scream the evening away demanding for a plate of something else. Before you know it, the food has landed itself on the carpet. First thoughts include: “how do I clean this carpet?”, and “how do I make the tantrums stop?” Perhaps a familiar scenario to some parents, and definitely one that makes you wonder, “how do I discipline my child and stop them from throwing a tantrum?”

One solution we’d suggest is simply to talk to your child.

But how?

Through kindness and firmness, you can positively discipline your child. While we each have our own subjective definitions of kindness, a rule of thumb is to respect your child’s feelings in any given situation. It makes your child feel that they are understood and that you acknowledge their negative feelings. According to psychologist Dr. Bernstein, validating these feelings also helps to build your child’s self-esteem and “reduce [their] defiant behaviour”.

However, this doesn’t mean you let your child walk all over you. It’s not kind of your own child to treat you, as their parent, disrespectfully. After your child has calmed down a little, sit down with your child and talk through the situation. Let him/her know that while you understood why he/she felt the way he/she did, you did not appreciate how he/she handled it. Talk through with them why it would be preferable to speak in a calm manner to express their feelings. You can even flip the situation around tell them how they would feel if you did the same thing. This allows them to analyse the situation from their perspective and practise empathy.

An ethnographic study conducted from the 1960s by Briggs about Inuit families found that Inuit parents do not shout at their children when they misbehave, but speak calmly to them instead. In turn, they teach them how to control their negative emotions. These Inuit parents go a step further and use a play to discipline their children.  

First, they act out the scenario of when the child misbehaved. Throughout the performance, they would ask questions about the consequences of the child’s actions in a playful manner. For instance, they would ask their child, “don’t you like me?”, “why would you do that?” It’s an opportune moment for the child to realise that actions do have consequences, and that not every situation has to elicit a reaction.

In a similar vein, parents should note that they ought to lead by example. For instance, if a child spilled a pot of soup, no one would react with an outburst at the child. They would simply acknowledge what had happened and move on.

While we’re not asking all parents to immediately adopt the Inuit parenting method, gently disciplining your child can go a long way. Though it could prove to be a challenge, nurturing them to take charge of and navigate through their emotions can eventually help them, and yourselves, find a healthy way to express negative emotions.   

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, plano, 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