Adults aren’t the only ones who can suffer from social anxiety. Our children can also experience anxiety which can compromise their ability to live a healthy and normal life. In fact, anxiety can contribute to sleeping problems, poor school performance and anti-social behavior. Helping your child overcome anxiety is a collaborative effort. It involves family support and possibly effective clinical treatment because if it persists unaddressed, this anxiety can follow your child into adulthood.

There are various ways to treat social anxiety in children. Therapy and medication can be powerful and necessary treatments for anxiety. However, there are things you can do as a parent that can also help your child. Here is a list of useful tips you can adopt to help your child cope with social anxiety.

1. Make sure they are sleeping enough 

Children need sleep to grow as sleep is when the human growth hormone is produced. If it takes a long time to wake your child in the morning or if they are having a hard time concentrating in school, they may not be getting sufficient sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to emotional problems including social anxiety. One of the simplest ways to treat social anxiety is to make sure your child is well-rested. Try creating a bedtime ritual they’ll look forward to. For young children, let them pick a ‘comfort object’ they want to sleep with, a bedtime story they want you to read, and even the flavor of toothpaste they want to use to brush their teeth. The more they own the process, the more eager they will be to participate. Excessive screen time has negative implications on children’s sleep. If your child spends too much time on his digital device, the bright light emissions and the content of the screen time can contribute to his alertness and make it more difficult for him to fall asleep. If you notice that your child is on his digital device excessively, consider using the plano app to manage their cell phone usage.

2. Teach them coping skills 

Building awareness of the source of your child’s anxiety is one of the best things you can do to help him/her cope with it. Children affected by social anxiety already know they are anxious and fearful in social situations, but some of them may not know why they feel that way. Help your child slow down the experience and define what he/she is feeling. Guide him/her to identify the physical and emotional responses of his/her anxiety and help him/her identify the trigger.

In order to do that, relax your child. It’s not possible to learn coping strategies in the middle of an anxiety attack so calming him/her down first is crucial. Have him/her take deep breaths versus shallow ones or, have him imagine a fun adventure instead of a negative outcome.

Then, teach him cognitive reframing. Children with social anxiety disorders are affected by negative beliefs. They tend to overreact, be pessimistic or insecure. To address such emotions, you can teach your child how to recognize negative thoughts and then replace them with positive ones.

Finally, teach him problem-solving skills. Children with social anxiety disorder tend to be good at avoidance. Your child might completely refuse to address a situation that may cause anxiety. Instead, help him play out scenarios. Ask him what his fears are about the situation. Then, see how you can create a bridge from the negative scenarios to a positive one.

3. Teach them how to make friends 

Good manners and irresistible charm don’t come naturally for some, but they can be developed. For many of us, we need to be shown how to make friends and you can start at your nearby playground! The playground is a great spot for your child and kids of his age to socialize. Encourage your kids to approach their peers and play games together.

If your child continues to suffer from social anxiety, seek the help of counseling professionals as their knowledge, qualifications, and experience can be just what your child needs to get over the fear of social situations.

While these tips can be useful to help you manage your child’s social anxiety, they are not a replacement for or a form of therapy, nor are they intended to cure, treat or diagnose social anxiety disorder. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or other qualified health providers about any questions you may have regarding your child’s social anxiety conditions.

This is a guest post written by: Erika Long

We all know how much of a hold our smartphones have on us. From paying the bills to checking our emails, smartphones enable us to shrink the world around us into the palm of our hands. While the dawn of the smartphone era has undoubtedly enhanced the quality of our lives, it brings with it a new set of problems in the form of smartphone addiction.

Our smartphones are addictive by design and here’s the proof: We spend approximately a third of our waking lives on our phones! Terms such as ‘phubbers’ (those who snub their friends in favour of their phones) and ‘smombies’ (smartphone zombies) have recently been coined to define the rising trend of individuals glued to their screens at all times. Indeed, the mental and physical health implications of our smartphone addiction has become a major cause for concern. However, there is a group of individuals that thrive off our smartphone addiction: Cybercriminals.

The rise of cybercrime in the smartphone era.

Cybercrime has existed since the birth of the Internet. For decades, cybercriminals had to adapt to and evolve with computer systems that have gotten increasingly complex. As global computer literacy rates continue to rise and computer systems continue to improve, cybercriminals have turned to smartphones as their goldmine. Why? 

Stealing the Keys to the Kingdom.

The Simon Personal Communicator, AKA the world’s first smartphone, was created by IBM in 1992. This revolutionary device had a touch screen, email, fax, and other then-novel apps and widgets.

Since then, the average smartphone has evolved to become more sophisticated and can now perform as well as a computer, if not better. Now, our entire lives’ worth of information is stored in our phones – private messages, financial details, photographs, who we talk to, health information, where we’ve been, locations we’re headed to etc. The more we use our phones, the more information it picks up on us, and the larger the volume of data available for cybercriminals to get their hands on. 

Mobile malware and phishing.

As much as we may hate to admit, our general awareness of the cyber risks associated with our phones pales in comparison to our knowledge of that associated with our PCs. Because of this, we exercise relatively less caution on our phones than PCs, opening us up to cyberattacks. A common technique used by hackers is to distributing malware on our mobile applications.

For example, when Pokémon Go first launched in select regions, cybercriminals churned out a large number of lookalike apps. One such app, Guide for Pokémon GO (a malware-laced app) was downloaded more than 500,000 times by smartphone users desperate to hop on the Pokémon Go bandwagon, before it was taken down. Of this alarming figure, 6,000 users were successfully infected by it. The Pokémon Go incident is one of many that has occurred in recent years. Our increased mobile phone dependency coupled with our lack of smartphone cybersecurity literacy has enabled cybercriminals and their criminal activity to thrive. According to Chief Consumer Security Evangelist of McAfee, Gary Davis, mobile malware enjoys the highest year-over-year growth rate of 42%. In that regard, he warns against the excessive use of our smartphones and being careless with our usage.

Ultimately, when it comes to smartphone use, we need to be our own watchdogs. The onus is on us to ensure that our relationship with our phones does not become an addiction. When we do use our phones, it is important to consider the implications of unsafe phone usage and take the necessary measures so as to not fall prey to cybercriminals.

It’s not something your child would definitely like or agree on, but sometimes, blocking apps has to be done.

Blocking apps is not all bad.

The term ‘blocking’ carries with it a negative connotation in the digital sphere. ‘Block’ can indicate a denial of one’s allowance to view content on social media, or rejection, or a dismissal. It’s not something that one wants to experience online. But sometimes, for our children’s safety, blocking certain apps online may prove to be more beneficial in the long run. You’d have to go through a lot of tantrums, no doubt, but it’s bitter medicine for your child – they won’t appreciate it, but it’s good for them.

Apps that are popular with kids

There are various apps that probably spring to your mind when you think about blocking apps. These probably include YouTube, Facebook, Netflix, etc. These well-known social networking and entertainment apps have their own set of parental control functions. YouTube for instance has a kids version – YouTube Kids. Netflix has certain parental control functions where you can restrict your child from viewing certain titles, and you can keep track of their viewing activity. Netflix also has a kids version of their own. As for Facebook, there are privacy settings that your child can activate through the application itself. 

But these are apps that we, as adults, are more familiar with. For your young ones, there are plenty of apps that you probably are unaware of, but are popular with kids. These can be social media apps, messaging apps, and gaming apps. Each of these types of apps can pose different risks to your child. Here are 3 apps from each type, and the potential online risks they may carry that you ought to know:

1. Tik Tok

Developed in China, Tik Tok is used for creating and sharing short music videos. It’s similar to YouTube, but these videos only last for about 15 seconds. Tik Tok is also an interactive app where users can connect with one another. Many children all over the world have become famous overnight because of the app. However, while Tik Tok may be fun and harmless, there’s a sizeable number of charting songs that include explicit language in their lyrics. Additionally, whenever a Tik Tok user posts a video for public view, that video easily becomes a target for mean criticism and even cyberbullying.

2. Kik

A free instant messaging platform, but what makes it special is the anonymity assigned to a user. Users can register for an account without a phone number or a name. The app instead uses the IP address of the user which is used to determine the user’s location. With the power and shield of anonymity, users have been confronted with cyberbullying and even pornographic messages.

3. Minecraft Pocket Edition

Basically the mobile version of the popular PC game, Minecraft is a hit with children. The game allows its players to create their own virtual worlds. They can go on adventures and fight monsters too – real fun, right? While the app is great for nurturing your child’s creativity and imagination, just like any other gaming application, it can potentially spawn addiction in your young one.

So why should you block apps?

All apps are not inherently bad. They are entertaining and social. But it’s how we use these apps that can potentially generate negativity and harm to not only ourselves, but to those around us as well. If you realise your child’s social media use infringes on his/her privacy, or if he/she has developed an addiction to a particular gaming or social media app, try talking to your child about it first. Talk to him/her about privacy settings to protect them from online harm, or about managing his/her screen time to prevent addiction. If you see minimal changes in your child’s smartphone habits, it may be time to pull the plug.

The plano app has an apps block feature that allows you to prohibit your child from accessing certain apps. There’s also a device schedule function which gives you the reigns to determine when your child can and cannot use their devices. Moreover, plano takes care of your child’s vision health and constantly gives your child eye break prompts to take a break from using their devices for too long. These features are, however, subject to your device’s technical specifications.

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

What happens to your child’s cognitive and social development when their love for the screens turns into an addiction?

Too much of a good thing can be bad.

Technology is great – it’s cool, creative, and convenient. There’s a lot to love about it, and when it comes to a long flight or if you’re stuck in traffic, your little smart device can work wonders in keeping your child occupied. There is a plethora of things your little one can do on their smart devices. From learning a new language or skill, to playing games and watching their favourite cartoons.

What happens then when your child’s love for technology and the digital screen turns into an addiction they can’t live without? What happens when they spend every other hour begging for the screen, or when they throw a tantrum when you deny them of their smart devices? It’s a sign of addiction.

While you may be tempted to relent to your child’s demands for the screen, don’t. Stand your ground because there are detrimental, albeit unseen, effects on your child’s cognitive and social development when you unknowingly feed your child’s screen addiction.

How does screen addiction affect your child?

There is a burgeoning number of studies that have reported on the adverse effects of excessive screen time and childhood social and cognitive development. In fact, according to a particular study, users who demonstrated a high usage rate of smart devices were reported to exhibit lower self-control and emotional stability. When every bit of information and entertainment is at the tip of your child’s fingers quite literally, they experience a form of instant self-gratification. In real life, this may not always be the case and your child would have to work hard to get what he/she needs. By relying too much on the screen, your child may miss out on the opportunities to help him/her develop patience, resilience, and resourcefulness.

Excessive screen time prevents children from developing an understanding of their immediate physical environment. According to researcher Sheri Madigan from the University of Calgary’s psychology department, children who are addicted to their screens miss out on a variety of activities that help them develop their gross motor skills. These activities include running around, or riding a bike.

Besides that, Dr. Sigman from the British Psychological Society mentions that screen addiction can inadvertently result in damage to a child’s mental development. Your child’s screen addiction may impede their ability to concentrate and communicate effectively in real life. In some cases, your child may be unable to interpret nonverbal cues. And if not rectified while your child is still young, these effects may affect their growth in later years. 

But don’t throw out those smartphones.

Technology is great and it’s a portal to both entertainment and information. But as with everything, there will always be pros and cons. Screen addiction can be curbed and managed if done right. It will take a lot of persuading to get your child off their screens, but the long term effects are worth it.

How to curb screen addiction.

The plano app helps to manage your child’s screen time and prompts them to take eye breaks and spend an adequate amount of time off the screen. As a parent, you can set no-device times on your child’s smart device too. If your child follows all the reminders in the plano app, he/she gets rewarded with points which they can use to request for enrichment classes and outdoor activities. 

To curb your child’s boredom, often times, we end up showing them a video on our phones. But should that always be the case?

“I’m bored, what should I do?”

Perhaps it’s a long car ride, or some idle time at home. There are no activities planned, and your child keeps asking for the phone to crush some levels on his/her favourite video game. At first, you refuse. Your child grumbles and whines that there’s nothing to do and he or she is bored. To suspend any restless-induced tantrums, we pass our phones to our children to scroll through the internet, or watch a short episode of his/her favourite cartoon. With rapid digitization and increasing screen time, our children’s minds are being constantly stimulated. If your child is bored, it’s easy for him/her to ask for the phone or a tablet to keep him/herself entertained.

But there’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to entertain our children with some screen time and make them happy, is there? While the answer is no, teaching your child to embrace the stillness of boredom can prove to be beneficial in the long run. The popular mindset makes boredom out to be a bad thing – that being idle is a waste of time and unproductive. However, according to senior researcher, Dr. Belton from the University of East Anglia, boredom encourages creativity. Leaving a child bored forces them to think outside the box to entertain themselves. So instead of reaching for the phone or the tablet, your child is more likely to think about other ways to pass the time. This can come in the form of drawing or making up stories.

Your own company is the best company.

When your child is bored, he/she is compelled to spend their time with themselves. Spending time on their own allows them to pay attention to their inner thoughts and allows them to get to know themselves more. This is opposed to spending hours staring at a palm-sized screen, or playing video games. In fact, being bored helps your child take charge of his/her own time to find something that interests them by themselves. If us parents continue to use screen time to keep our children from being bored, our children won’t be able to take charge of their own idle time. Psychotherapist, Nancy Colier suggests that this dampens our children’s imagination and discourages our child’s sense of self-dependency.

Letting your child learn how to cope with boredom can help him/her be his/her own best friend. Getting bored shouldn’t be considered “bad” or a “problem”. So the next time your child says he/she is bored, hold off from putting on the latest cartoon episode, or downloading the latest version of his/her game on your phone. Rather, teach them how to endure boredom, develop their creativity and imagination, and decrease their dependency on screen time. After all, reality is not the latest adventure-packed video game, and there will be large pockets of idle time as your child grows up. It sounds boring, but that’s exactly what it will be, and that’s not bad.

Earlier this year, 16-year-old Kyle Giersdorf found himself taking the top prize, a whopping USD 3 million, for the popular online video game, Fortnite. Kyle reportedly put in 6 hours a day of practice, even on school days. The Philadelphia native’s win parallels the success of the video game industry in the last decade.

It has emerged as a cultural force unlike any other, perhaps since the dawn of television. According to a study by the Pew Research Centre, 97% of teen boys and 83% of teen girls in America play video games on some kind of device.

Kyle’s success no doubt serves as an inspiration to the many teens who hope to follow in his footsteps and achieve pro-gaming stardom. However, it has also reignited the controversy surrounding gaming, with detractors citing research on the dangers of addiction and its repercussions on children. Recently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) officially classified internet addiction syndrome and gaming addiction as mental health conditions.

As parents, should we be worried about video games and its effects on our children? If so, what are the signs that your child could be addicted to video games? And are there actually any benefits to video games? We answer all these and more.

The tell-tale signs of gaming addiction that parents should recognise.

1. Physical signs

Playing video games for hours on end can cause children to develop a condition known as digital eye strain. By design, many video games require players to play for long periods of time, causing dry or red eyes. Your child may even experience frequent headaches, soreness in the shoulders, back or neck. You may also notice that your child is spending less and less time on essential tasks like personal hygiene and maintaining his appearance if he has a gaming addiction.

2. Psychological signs

Have you noticed a change in your child’s behaviours and mood? Observe your child when he is not playing video games. If your child has a gaming addiction, you will notice that he will start to get anxious, irritable and even angered by small triggers. A shift in mood to a more relaxed state when playing video games could also be a sign of addiction. Over time, experts note that children who suffer from gaming addiction will start using video games as a coping mechanism to relieve their anxiety and stress.

3. Neglecting ‘real world’ relationships

An obsessive relationship with the virtual world can start to chip away at the real-world connections that your child has formed. As your child spends more and more time lost in the world of videogames, he will naturally have less time to spend with you and the rest of the family and his friends. Social isolation may ensue as your child becomes more withdrawn, preferring to retreat to the comfort of gaming over the company of his loved ones.

Are video games any good?

Videogames are not all bad for our children. In fact, research has shown that playing action video games can enhance players’ visual processing skills, including spatial resolution. Videogames have even been used in eye treatments, with doctors using video game therapy to treat and correct amblyopia, or more commonly known, lazy eye!

Moderation is key.

As parents, it is your responsibility to set limits on playing video games in the household and ensuring that you communicate these restrictions with your child. A cease and desist situation will more often than not result in temper tantrums and conflicts, as your frustrated child may not understand why the videogame limitations were set in the first place. Ultimately, as with all things in life, when it comes to gaming, always remember that moderation is key!

Before pointing fingers at junior’s screen addiction, we should evaluate our own device use first.

Does it run in the family?

I’m guilty of it. We’re all guilty of it. You may tell yourself it’s just a quick email check at the dinner table, or that it’s just a quick look on Facebook just before bed. I, for one, always tell myself it’s a short snap for the gram, no big deal because who cares, right? Well, junior cares, and learns.

Technology is here to stay and for many of us, it’s almost as essential as food and oxygen. After all, we need our digital devices for work and entertainment. It’s become a great help to our lives, but what happens when we don’t limit our device use? Since children are fast learners, if your child sees you constantly staring at the screen, they may rationalise prolonged screen time as an acceptable way of life.Herein lies the problem. For many of us parents, we think we can control our children’s screen time without controlling our own, and that’s not reasonable. According to research done in America, 56% of parents admitted to using their devices while driving, and half their adolescent children notice this.  Obviously, we don’t want our children to text and drive, yet why do we parents do it? This is merely a symptom of a larger issue – that our children’s screen addiction may be a reflection of our own.

Cultivate good device habits.

The little things count, so if you want to manage your child’s screen addiction, it’s time we take a look at our own. Here are 3 things you can do to manage your own screen time, and have junior follow suit:

1. Create device-free zones

Rules rule. If you want your child to follow the rules, you best do so too. Set some device-free time every day, be it for 2 hours or even 3. It can even be done over dinner. Whatever duration of time you choose to set, be sure to lock up those phones in a safe spot and participate in activities together with your little one. Not only does this help limit your child’s screen time, it also makes time for you guys to catch up on some good ol’ family bonding. The plano app allows you to schedule device-free periods for your child to ensure that your child doesn’t spend extended periods of time on their phone.

2. Use your devices together

To manage both your screen time and your child’s screen time, it’s also good to set device timings as well. During this time, your child and yourself are allowed to use your devices for whatever purpose. You can also set break times too. That way, your child won’t feel alone in his/her device restrictions. At the same time, talk to your child about what interests him/her on the internet. You can use this as a chance to educate your child about what content is good or bad for their consumption on the internet.

3. The earlier you start, the better

Don’t procrastinate in making these little changes. It’s time we parents walk the talk and manage our screen time before managing our little one’s. If your child is still young, establish these device schedules and stick to them so that your little one will grow up with good device habits.

The plano app  helps to remind your child to practice good device habits every day by prompting your child to take eye breaks and adhere to their device-free periods. If they follow these prompts, your child can earn points which he/she can use to request items from the plano shop to encourage device-free activities.

Keeping track of your child’s phone activity is just another task to add on top of everything else. Here’s how parental control apps can be an extra pair of hands (and eyes) you need.

So many things to do, and only one you.

Your to-do list is teeming with things like grocery shopping, cooking, working out, paying taxes, and the top priority? Taking care of the kids. Once your child comes home from school, that’s when it’s full speed ahead – from cooking their meals to supervising their homework, it’s a full-time job. But throw in their want for the screen, and there’s another task looming over your head: monitoring their device use.

Technology is huge today, and it’s both helpful and entertaining. Through their devices, your child will have the world at his/her fingertips, almost literally! But technology can be a double-edged sword; while useful, uncontrolled time spent on devices can lead to adverse health issues such as myopia or addiction. As a parent, it’s natural to be concerned about the amount of time your child is spending on his/her devices. Constantly checking on them and their screen time is just another thing to add on to the to-do list, and it’s time-consuming.

The free mobile nanny.

Typically, parental control apps centre around blocking particular apps on your child’s device, or limit their internet usage. This might seem restrictive to your young one. For the first few weeks after installing the application, your child may find these restrictions annoying and this may lead to tantrums or even sudden withdrawal symptoms. However, parental control apps that aim to empower your child, such as plano, can be both fun and helpful.

The plano app is a science-based app that offers you all the parental management features, subject to your device capabilities. These features include a time tracker to keep track of your child’s screen time, and an apps blocker function to keep your child safe from harmful content. Beyond that, however, the plano app also monitors your child’s vision health. Through the app, you can input your child’s latest eye test results and monitor the progression of their eye health. You can even book an appointment with a nearby optometrist for your child to attend an eye exam.  

The app reminds your child to take regular eye breaks and to place their phone at a safe distance from their eyes. Additionally, it reminds your child to use their phone in the correct lighting conditions. If your child follows all the prompts in the app, he/she will earn points which they can use to request for enrichment classes and outdoor activities.

With the help of parental control apps like plano, you don’t have to worry about constantly looking over your child’s shoulder to check on his/her device use. In fact, you can just sit back and relax while the app helps you monitor your child’s screen time. At the end of the day, parental control apps are there to help you and your child out, and we hope it’ll prove beneficial to your family in the long run!

Being a parent is hard work. Being a parent of children growing up on an electronic diet brings its own set of challenges. The internet has enabled our children to learn about the vast world around them at a much faster pace than we ever could have imagined. It has earned its rightful title as being one of the greatest inventions of mankind. However, it has also given today’s parents a new set of challenges to overcome. The online world, while amazing, has certain dangers that your child may fall prey to.

Even if given your child the whole ‘perils of the internet,’ talk and have set screen-time limits, it could still rather difficult to constantly keep an eye on their internet activity.

As such, are blocking apps the way to go? What other ways can you protect your child from the dangers of the internet while ensuring that he/she reaps all the benefits it has to offer? We share some insightful tips to help you answer these questions.

1. Having an open dialogue about device/digital safety

As parents, we play an integral role in sharing with our children the necessary information about staying safe on the internet. However, getting the conversation started can be challenging. One thing that can help you before you begin is to equip yourself with the common pitfalls and dangers of the online world that your child may fall prey to. These include cyberbullying, phishing, and gaming addiction. For younger children, it is especially important for parents to educate them about social media. Social media is one of the biggest platforms cyberpredators and cyberbullies use to take advantage of children.

Hence, having a good understanding of the subject matter can help you kick start the important conversation with your children. Talking to them about these dangers from a young age will empower them to make the right decisions and stay safe online.

2. Establishing the house rules

For many parents, implementing house rules can seem rather daunting, as there is the fear that children may not be readily accepting of the rules. However, establishing a set of rules on internet usage can make it so much easier in helping you monitor your children’s device use habits.

Some of the important rules on internet usage that you should include are: not to give personal information online (name, age, home and school address, etc.), not making any in-app or online purchases without parental consent and to only use the internet under your supervision.

3. The ‘block apps’ feature

If your child already owns a smartphone and seems to be hooked on certain apps that are potentially inappropriate, you may be tempted to confiscate their phone. However, it is a radical solution and does not solve the root of the problem; your child’s relationship with technology. Technology is great, it’s our children’s use of it that needs fixing. Hence, using a parental management tool that has the ‘block’ function may be the solution to your problems.

As with most things when it comes to parenting, blocking apps work best when you use them openly and communicate why you are using the functions with your child. Otherwise, get ready for a world of tantrums and tears, as your child may not understand why you are putting a restriction on their internet activity.

Our parental management app, plano, has a ‘block apps’ feature that enables you to restrict your child from using apps that you view as inappropriate and unsafe. It also offers a suite of other functions that empowers you to keep an eye on your child’s device use habits. These features are subject to your device’s technical specifications.