In this digital age, our children are probably exposed to smartphones and social media daily. They may not fully understand and recognise the extent of online dangers, which leaves them vulnerable to cyberbullying on the web.

As much as you are prepared to protect your children from such dangers, they may be reluctant to confide in you even if they are being cyberbullied. They may be afraid that the cyberbullying will worsen if they complain or worried about losing their online privileges, like getting their devices taken away [1]. Hence, rather than risking it all, children might just try to resolve it on their own.

How you can recognise the signs of cyberbullying.

Your child could be a victim of cyberbullying if he/she is [2]:

  • Uneasy about going to school
  • Unexplained anger or frustration after being online
  • Withdrawn from friends and family
  • Suddenly stops using the computer 
  • Nervous or jumpy when receiving a text or email
  • Secretive about what he/she does on the computer

How you can help your child.

Finding out that your child has been cyberbullied is painful for any parent. While you may want to retaliate to protect your child, it would be best to take a step back and make rational efforts to stop the bullying [3].

Start by letting your child know that the cyberbullying was not their fault. Often, they would take the words of the bullies too seriously and be convinced that they are the cause of the problem. Praise your child for choosing to speak up about it and reassure your child that he or she is not alone [4].

If your child is reluctant to discuss and reveal further information, do not reprimand them for that. Instead, try to help them understand that you are here to help and slowly gain their trust to speak up.

Once you’ve understood the whole situation, try to reach out to the school and let them know. Most schools, especially in Singapore, have strict protocols for responding to cyberbullying [5]. The school would be in a better position and authority to reach out to the bully and help your child.

What you can do is to collect screenshots of the conversations, messages and any other evidence that show clear proof that your child was cyberbullied [6]. Keep a record of these incidents to help with the investigation process. Proceed to block off communication with the bully. Refrain from replying to their messages or contacting them directly to aggravate the situation.

Plano is here to help.

The plano app allows you to block certain apps and browsers* that you deem inappropriate or dangerous for your children. You can also schedule and limit their screen time to ensure that they are not spending excessive time on their devices.

While we provide the tools for you to help your children maintain healthy device habits, do remember to educate them on internet safety and cyber etiquette. Let’s help prevent our children from falling victims to cyberbullying or become cyberbullies themselves.

*Only for android users

[1] SCHOLASTIC PARENTS STAFF. (n.d.). 6 Signs Your Child Is Being Cyberbullied—And What to Do About It. Scholastic. Retrieved July 14, 2020, from https://www.scholastic.com/parents/family-life/social-emotional-learning/technology-and-kids/tackle-online-bullies.html
[2] SCHOLASTIC PARENTS STAFF. (n.d.). 6 Signs Your Child Is Being Cyberbullied—And What to Do About It. Scholastic. Retrieved July 14, 2020, from https://www.scholastic.com/parents/family-life/social-emotional-learning/technology-and-kids/tackle-online-bullies.html
[3] Common Sense Media. (n.d.). What should I do if my kid is bullied online? Retrieved July 14, 2020, from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/cyberbullying/what-should-i-do-if-my-kid-is-bullied-online
[4] Hirsch, L. (2014, June). Cyberbullying. Nemours KidsHealth. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/cyberbullying.html
[5] Yang, C. (2017, July 22). What can schools do about cyber bullies? The Straits Times. https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/what-can-schools-do-about-cyber-bullies
[6]  Hirsch, L. (2014, June). Cyberbullying. Nemours KidsHealth. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/cyberbullying.html

Research shows that the average person sees as many as 5,000 advertisements a day [1]. Sounds like a lot, right? It makes sense if you think about it; ads are presented to us through many different channels; on the TV, on billboards, in the supermarket, at the shopping mall, and on the Internet.

Smart devices in particular give us access to an endless source of information, available at our fingertips. While this can be super convenient, it poses the question; is this constant access to information having a toll on us? More importantly, how can we prevent it from impacting on our little ones and the generation of the future?

What is information overload?

The term information overload was popularized by author Alvin Toffler in his book Future Shock (1970). It explains why we feel overwhelmed when exposed to too much stimulation. Our brains can only process so much information at a time, so when we are fed too much, we go into overdrive and lose the ability to make decisions.

Information, especially in the form of glossy advertisements, can be like candy to a child’s brain. You’ve probably seen it before; any time a child is given a smart device, they become transfixed and can spend vast amounts of time glued to the things. This makes them highly susceptible to information overload; they are endlessly curious and, at the same time, lack the self-control and ability to switch off.

Spending extended periods of time on their smart devices can cause kids to feel tired, overwhelmed, and unable to concentrate on other tasks. This can impact on their ability to complete homework, get to sleep, and focus in social situations.

This doesn’t sound ideal, huh? So, you must be asking, how do we make sure our kids don’t suffer from information overload?

How to prevent information overload in your kids

Unfortunately, kids don’t come with an instruction guide on how to raise them. And we can’t necessarily ask our parents how to combat this very modern problem. Nonetheless, there are plenty of steps you can take to prevent your kids from being exposed to too much information. Here are three top tips:

1. Block ads

On most search engines, you can install an ad blocker extension to get rid of unwanted ads. This can help reduce Internet clutter and also prevent your kids from clicking on inappropriate sites.

2. Encourage regular breaks

Getting your child to take a break every 30 minutes can help prevent information overload and also take some of the pressure off their eyes. Staring at a screen for too long has been shown to negatively impact eye health, in some cases leading to short-sightedness or myopia. 

etting your child to take a break every 30 minutes can help prevent information overload and also take some of the pressure off their eyes. Staring at a screen for too long has been shown to negatively impact eye health, in some cases leading to short-sightedness or myopia. 

3. Switch off before bed

Browsing the internet too late at night can trick the brain into thinking it’s still daytime. The blue light emitted by screens can also suppress the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. It is recommended to switch off devices at least an hour before bedtime to prevent insomnia. 

A complex problem… with a simple solution.

Parenting can be tough, especially in the rapidly changing, increasingly digitized world of the 21st century. But don’t forget, you’re not on your own! Apps like plano can help make it easier to prevent information overload in your kids.

plano runs in the background of your child’s phone and reminds them to use their device responsibly (e.g. to take a break every half an hour). If your child displays responsible screen behaviour, they are rewarded with points which they can redeem in the plano shop to request fun, device-free activities. This points-reward system helps incentivise your kids to maintain a healthy relationship with their smart device through the use of positive reinforcement. 

Even more, plano’s “blue light filter” function can be used to change the color of your child’s screen so that it emits red and yellow hues rather than the harmful blue light. This helps prevent melatonin suppression to make sure your little ones get to sleep on time!

Teaching your kids how to live in the “Information Age”.

The Internet isn’t all that bad, it’s a wonderfully convenient tool that’s great when used in moderation. It’s not so much about banning the Internet or smart devices completely but making sure our kids develop a healthy relationship with them. It’s the same with junk food; we can give our kids sweets every now and then, but it would be silly to give them reign over a whole candy store!

These three tips can help foster in your child a good relationship with their smart device so that they can avoid information overload and live happy and healthy lives.

References:

[1] Story, L. (2007). Anywhere the Eye Can See, It’s Likely to See an Ad. Retrieved 14 July 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/15/business/media/15everywhere.html

We’ve all heard about ‘screen time’ and with all the talk about reducing screen time, we’ve been conditioned to think of it as something bad. While it’s true that prolonged screen time has been proven to result in some serious consequences such as myopia and even mental health issues, but it’s not all bad!

In fact, screen time is a great way for your little ones to unwind and connect with their peers in today’s digital age. As parents, we can help our kids discern what defines good and bad screen time. By educating them about the right on-screen activities and the appropriate duration they can expend on screen time, you’ll be able to create a positive screen experience for your child.

The good.

Aside from connecting with loved ones who may be miles apart, there are a variety of other ways your children can use the screens productively. There are a ton of eye-opening, educational content that your child can find on the internet. From National Geographic Kids on YouTube to Disney Nature, your child can watch a myriad of insightful, factual shows that teach them about the world they live in. You could even make this into a family activity where the whole household gathers to watch an episode every evening!

Besides shows and edu-series, there are games out there that are dedicated to encouraging critical and creative thinking. Minecraft is a famous one that pushes kids to interact with the spatial digital environment they are in. Not all games are as brainless as we might have been told to think!

So, the next time your child wants to play a game on his/her device, try sitting down with him/her to understand more about the game that he/she is playing. If it’s an educational game that benefits their cognitive skills, then go for it! If it’s a game that involves mindless bashing, you might want to reel back. Once you have made a decision about the productivity of the game, sit down with your little one and let him/her know your thoughts about it.

By directing your child to such positive and productive on-screen activities, screen time becomes engaging for them.

The bad.

For us parents, we’re probably well-acquainted with the bad side of screen time. Endless hours spent laughing at nonsensical videos and pointless scrolling through social media are probably some examples that come to mind. Besides the type of content that your child is exposed to, it’s also about the duration of time they spend on screens. Even spending hours on productive, educational games can be bad if it’s impossible to pull your little one away from them.

Research has shown that spending prolonged periods of time on the screen can lead to mental health issues and vision problems like depression and myopia, respectively. While screen time can be used fruitfully, as the saying goes, ‘too much of a good thing can be bad’. At the end of the day, it’s necessary to manage our children’s screen time no matter what they’re using that time on.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), children under 5 should not be exposed to more than 1 hour of screen time. In fact, those under the age of 2 should not even be allowed any screen time at all. For those of you with older children, it’s possible for you to negotiate with them an agreed duration of screen time throughout the day. In order to help your child better manage his/her screen time, you can consider downloading parental control apps like plano.

Plano helps to monitor your child’s device use and reminds your child to take regular breaks from the screens every 30 minutes. As a parent, you can also use the plano app to schedule no-device times. For instance, if your child is not allowed to use his/her phone during dinner time, you can use the plano app to lock his/her device during those hours.

If your child follows these prompts and reminders in the plano app, he/she can earn points! These points can then be used in the plano Shop* to request for device-free activities.

At the end of the day, we care for all our children. It’s important we help them understand the differences between good and bad screen time and the fine line that separates them. Our screens are here to stay and for our little ones growing up in today’s digitalised world, we need to guide them to maintain a responsible relationship between themselves and their devices. After all, we have the power to control our devices and not the other way around.

*Only available to Singapore plano users.

With the advancement of technology, most of us seem to spend our time online as it is a way to stay connected to the world. Remember when we were children? We used to meet our neighbours to play hide-and-seek around the block or at the playground. Those days are long gone and our kids are now connecting with their friends online instead. While this is how our society has adapted to the digital age, we must also be wary of spending excessive time on the screen.

Why You Should Set An Example

As our children are still developing, excessive screen time can have some damaging consequences to their health. Most notably, it could lead to a progression of myopia, and without early intervention, it may develop into high myopia. Excessive screen time can also cause digital eye strain (DES) and bad posture, which we definitely don’t want our children to suffer from. Hence, we should nip the problem in the bud and teach our children good screen time habits, by setting the right example ourselves.

Imagine taking the device away from your child and he/she sees you still on your phone or computer. This would make them question your good intentions and wonder why you can continue using your device while they can’t. “Do what I say, not as I do” isn’t exactly the most effective parenting method, no matter how we might wish for it to be true.

The reality is that the example you set for your child determines their behaviour growing up, as they learn by observing and imitating people around them. By setting a good example of putting away your device for an eye break, it allows your child to mimic your positive behaviour as well. 

When you start by putting away your device, your child will be more willing to listen to your advice and follow suit. Help them understand the detrimental effects of excessive screen time and patiently explain that you are coming from a place of concern. And since you are taking a break together with your child, you can go out for a walk, bring your child to a playground, or spend time solving puzzles together.

We are here for you!

The plano app helps you to simply schedule your child’s device usage time and eye break reminders. For instance, setting a no-device time during family bonding is a way to engage your child in the activity and encourage conversations. The app will also prompt your child to take a break every 30 minutes for 1-2 minutes, so that they can take their eyes off the screens and give it a rest.

Furthermore, by following the prompts given, your child can accumulate points that can be used to request for rewards in the plano Shop*! We have device-free activities that your child can enjoy at Mega Adventure to the NUSLKC Museum

By rewarding your child for good device use, plano helps tackle device dependency in a fun and encouraging way. You can set the example by also taking an eye break to encourage your child to follow the prompts and earn some points. It’s also a great opportunity to put down your device and engage in some bonding activities with your child today!

*Only available to Singapore plano users.

These days, the age at which our children are starting to use their smartphones and tablets are getting younger and younger.

In fact, a study carried out by Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority among children between 0 to 14 years of age found that kids on average started accessing the Internet at around 6 years old, and social media at 9 years old despite minimum age requirements (13 years old) across most social media platforms!

As parents, many of us may be finding it challenging to straddle the line between keeping our young, impressionable children safe online and ensuring that they grow up equipped with all the digital skills necessary in this day and age. You may wonder if tracking your child’s digital activity would help protect them from potential threats – and how to properly do it.

 But before you consider your options, you need to get familiar with the virtual world your kids are logging on to every day. Here are some of the online dangers your children might be exposed to:

Lurking online dangers

The Internet can be a dangerous place for children, and more so than we think it is. DQ Institute reported that more than half of the children aged 8 to 12 worldwide have been exposed to at least one type of cyber-risk such as cyberbullying, gaming addiction, meeting online strangers in real life and online sexual behaviors. 

These types of threats bring about very real implications for our children. For instance, research shows cyberbullying,can take a toll on our children’s mental and physical wellbeing and even, go as far as to negatively impact their academic performance and social relationships!

Other than cyberbullying, gaming addiction can also affect our children’s mental health. In fact, the World Health Organisation had recently officially classified gaming addiction as a mental disorder!

Shockingly, in countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, Egypt, Argentina and Oman, 7 in 10 children are at risk of becoming a victim of cyber-crimes. These figures are likely to follow past increasing trends over the next few years with global internet penetration rising at breakneck speed and more children are catapulted into the online community.

As parents, it is only natural that we have concerns about our child’s well-being and safety. Some of us may have resorted to extreme measures, like a complete ban on the use of our children’s digital devices, but is that truly the best way to protect our children?

Related: Should We Ban Our Children From Using Smartphones?

Tech is not the problem – it’s the relationships we form with tech that need to be addressed.

Our smart devices surround us at all times and as such, a complete ban on device use is simply not feasible in today’s world, even though many of us have tried. Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has firmly grounded and emphasized the importance of digital connectivity, especially for work, study and leisure. So how do we as parents straddle that line?

It is not the owning of smart devices that makes children more prone to cyber-crimes or even going overboard on screen time. Instead, it often boils down to how our children use technology and the type of relationship they cultivate with it. 

Social media plays the biggest role in our children’s relationships with tech devices. Children use social media to build social connections, explore their identity and discover interests, but it is a double-edged sword, particularly when they start to develop an obsession or contract the “Fear of Missing Out” or FOMO. 

Globally, children spend an alarming average of 32 hours of screen time per week for entertainment  alone, including social media surfing. That’s more than 2 times the recommended amount of screen time by health professionals! However, researchers have observed that children who own a mobile device and are not active social media users clocked similar screen times to children who do not own mobile devices. 

Given that children spend so much time online, they are potentially at risk of being exposed to a myriad of cyber risks, everything from malicious content to online predators. Parents all over the world including prominent tech industry figures like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, have tried different methods to protect their children, such as imposing limits on device usage.

But beyond that, it is also crucial that we know what exactly our children are up to in their virtual worlds, to safeguard them from online evils. That’s when the subject of parental controls and monitoring comes up.

Related: Stranger Danger – How Parents Can Keep Their Kids Safe Online

Monitoring vs Snooping

Before we get to the how, we need to first understand the difference between monitoring and snooping. The key difference is that monitoring is done with the child’s prior knowledge, while snooping is done secretly. 

Generally, the main intention behind why parents engage in monitoring their children is to keep an eye on their online activity to keep them safe. Snooping, on the other hand, is frequently used to obtain information that the child may not want to tell their parents. Some examples of snooping involve reading texts and scouring through web histories without informing your child or even communicating why there is a need to do so.

It’s never a good idea to snoop around, even though we might feel that we have every right to do so as parents. This could backfire the moment  your children realise that you are doing so and as such, would be less inclined to share information with you once they discover that their privacy has been invaded. 

So what’s the right way to go about it?

Empowering children to become responsible digital citizens

Striking a balance between effective monitoring and sheer overprotectiveness can be tough. Nowadays, many parents are turning to parental control apps for that extra assistance. 

We created plano to do just that. plano provides app and browser blocking to help parents restrict their children’s access to certain types of content. plano also has a device time scheduling function for parents to limit screen time automatically.

Positive reinforcement is the most effective way to improve behaviour – plano rewards children with points when they adhere to the prompts and inculcate healthy device habits. These points can be used to redeem exclusive discounts to a variety of fun, device-free and kid-friendly activities via the plano shop. This way, children are empowered to understand the best ways to use tech devices and learn to be more responsible for their own relationship with tech.

Related: Policing vs Empowering – Managing Your Kid’s Screen Time

On top of that, good cyber etiquette like speaking kindly and not interacting with strangers, when reinforced from young, enables children to be more discerning and respectful in their online interactions. If your child is well-equipped with the relevant knowledge, you would also feel more at ease allowing independent device usage.

Communicate with your children

As with all relationships, communication is key. To eliminate the risk of straining parent-child relationships over digital tracking, your child has to understand where you’re coming from to fully appreciate the idea of parental controls. By effectively communicating your intentions and expectations to your children, they would feel important, respected and be more cooperative.

When you think of screen time, do you think about the mental health repercussions too?

It’s difficult to notice the unseen.

This generation’s children are spending more time on screens than any other generation before them. Given the rise in digital technology in the 21st Century, it’s no surprise that they’ve grown up together with their devices. Some may have even gotten their first view of the screen from the moment they were born! It’s almost commonplace to see a toddler watching cartoons through a phone or a tablet nowadays.

For us parents, the screens can serve as a mighty good distraction for our children. If we’re busy and they’re bored, the screen is always there to help fill that gap. Screens have also become a go-to deterrent against tantrums and whining. Sometimes, it’s the only way that we seem to know how to get our children to behave! However, bribing our children with the screen in exchange for good behaviour can have lasting consequences such as device dependency and smartphone addiction.

Prolonged screen time is known to cause myopia, but did you know it can also take a toll on your child’s mental health? Besides smartphone addiction and device dependency, too much screen time can also contribute to other conditions such as depression.

Wait, how is it harmful to their mental health?

A study about the relationship between screen time and mental health among 3000 teenagers was conducted in 2019 in Canada [1]. Participants of the study were required to note down their screen time and their corresponding self-esteem levels. The researchers found that when participants spent more time on the screen using social media or watching the television, it corresponded with an increased risk of depression. In fact, they even found that increasing screen time by just 1 hour within a year was associated with more severe depressive symptoms.

Doctors have attributed this to the type of content children consume online, particularly through social media and television [2]. The digital media can shape and alter the way children view the world and might give them unrealistic expectations of how they should live or how they should look. While scrolling through social media vicariously, they inadvertently compare themselves to others which may account for their low self esteem.

Further research has also demonstrated that 22.6% of youths aged 11-13 who spent more than seven hours on screens every day tended to express disinterest in learning new things [3].

What can we parents do to help?

As parents, we want to keep our children safe and healthy. One of the ways we can help is to manage our children’s screen time. If you’re concerned about having to look over your child’s shoulder 24/7, don’t worry, you can download parental control apps like plano to help you!

Plano helps to monitor your child’s device use and reminds your child to take regular breaks from the screens every 30 minutes. As a parent, you can also use the plano app to schedule no-device times. For instance, if your child is not allowed to use his/her phone during dinner time, you can use the plano app to lock his/her device during those hours.

If your child follows these prompts and reminders in the plano app, he/she can earn points! These points can then be used in the plano Shop* to request for device-free, and outdoor activities. In fact, going outdoors has also been proven to help improve mental wellness in children too.

Our children are our pride and joy. The last thing we’d want is to see them hurt. Help them take control of their screen time today and let them know that we have the power to control the screens, not the other way around.

*Only available to Singapore plano users.

[1] Boers E, Afzali MH, Newton N, Conrod P. Association of Screen Time and Depression in Adolescence. JAMA Pediatr. 2019;173(9):853–859. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.1759

[2] News, A. (2020). Social media, screen time linked to depression in teens, study says. Retrieved 7 July 2020, from https://abcnews.go.com/Health/social-media-screen-time-linked-depression-teens-study/story?id=64399137

[3] PhD, R. (2020). Too Much Screen Time Linked to Anxiety & Depression in Young Children and Teens. Retrieved 7 July 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2018/11/11/too-much-screen-time-linked-to-anxiety-depression-in-young-children-and-teens/139931.html

What do you do when they just can’t peel their eyes off the screen?

A world in the palm of their hands.

Smart devices have allowed our children to be a swipe, tap, and ping away from endless information and entertainment. We parents have been there before – the moment they get their little palms on a tablet or a smartphone, we’ve lost them to the world of cyberspace. Sometimes, it can be difficult to peel them away from the screens and this could sometimes be met with tantrums and whining.

While each parent has a different way of handling our child’s screen time, one of the greatest ways to manage their device use is to get into the device itself. How? Through parental control apps.

The app age.

From fitness to finance, there are a plethora of apps to help you manage different aspects of your life. Parental control apps are just another type of app that help to keep your child’s screen time in check and for good reason. According to plano’s latest reports, children are spending up to 16 hours a day glued to their devices. Prolonged screen time can eventually contribute to a variety of health issues! Check out the infographic below to find out more about the effects of excessive screen time on our health.

Contrary to the belief that parental control apps are used to spy on your child’s online movements, such apps are more geared towards helping your child manage their overall screen time. The plano app is one example. What sets the plano app apart however, is its dual function to manage your child’s myopia progression while monitoring their screen time.

How does the plano app do this?

The plano app comes equipped with a variety of visual health and parental control features, but here are 3 noteworthy plano app functions that can help you manage your child’s smartphone addiction:

1. Device break reminders

The app reminds your child to take a break from the screens every 30 minutes with device break reminders. During this time, your child won’t be able to use his/her device for 1-2 minutes and can take a quick eye break from the screens. That way, your child will be able to rest his/her eyes and relieve them from the strain of using his/her device for prolonged periods of time.

2. Set device schedules

You can use the plano app to set device times on your child’s phone. For instance, you can schedule a no-device time during dinner or family-bonding time. During this time, your child will not be able to access his/her device so that your child will be able to focus on other activities away from the screen.

3. Block apps*

Are there any particular apps that are taking your child’s attention? Perhaps it’s a certain gaming app that’s been taking up all of your child’s time and you just want him/her to take a few hours off. Well, the plano app’s block apps function will allow you to do this seamlessly! Using the plano app, you can choose which apps your child will not have access to. Your child will not be allowed to use the app as long as the app has been blocked using plano.

What’s more, if your child follows all the reminders and prompts in the plano app, he/she earns points! These points can then be used to request for fun device-free activities from the plano shop** – a great way for your child to spend time away from the screen.

Download plano here to enjoy the full suite of vision health and parental control features now!

*Subject to your device’s technical capabilities.

**Only available to Singapore plano users.

The ease of using devices has brought about some bad habits that could make us victims of cybercriminals, especially our children who are not aware of these online dangers. Despite the endless news on cyberattacks, most internet users have the same indifference towards their online safety, our children included. Take a pause and think if you or your children exhibit these habits:

1. Reusing your passwords

No doubt, it’s convenient to reuse the same password for multiple accounts. Or reuse the same password with a few modifications when we are prompted to change it. However, this would only make the job easier for the hackers out there. Once they crack one password, they’ll be able to access your other accounts with the exact same password!

As parents, we should caution our children of this as well. The next time you have a conversation with your little one, let your child know about the potential risks of reusing their passwords. Slowly explain the consequences and remind them that you’re coming from a place of concern. 

2. Connecting to public Wi-Fi

Have you ever handed your phone to your child to play games, while connected to a public Wi-Fi? This is a problem as public networks are unsafe and very easy to hack. Cybercriminals can simply create a fake Wi-Fi hotspot and collect the information that you are sending and receiving using the connection. Imagine if your child accidentally accesses your emails or purchases a game, and the hackers get hold of important data like your credit card information!

Try to avoid using public networks, especially if you are purchasing things online and if your phone does not have an adequate protection software. You can also prevent your child from accidentally accessing important data on your phone by blocking the apps and browsers* with the plano app.

3. Ignoring updates

Did you know that 99% of computers are prone to cyber hacking because of the vulnerabilities of these 8 apps? And you probably have at least 3 of these applications installed on your computer. These apps are prone to attract cyber criminals because they can target the maximum number of users with those vulnerabilities.

Hence, developers are constantly releasing updates and patches to fix their security flaws, and dismissing these updates notifications might just put your online safety at risk. Remember to regularly update the applications, especially antivirus softwares, on both you and your child’s devices to prevent falling victim to cyberattacks.

4. Register for new services using social media log in

Using your social media account to sign in a new service grants you access within a few minutes. However, if everything online is linked, should a hacker find its way to one account, they can easily gain access to all other accounts linked to it. Is the convenience of linking your social media account really worth the risks that follow?

Furthermore, when you use your social media account to sign in on a site, the site gains partial access to your account information. While it is public information only, we still might not want for other sites to collect our data. Let your little ones understand the risk and be by their side to guide them when they start signing up for new services.

5. Not reading the Terms of Use

Whilst this is pretty self explanatory, most of us are guilty of this, aren’t we? The End User License Agreement (EULA) – a massive chunk of text that we all want to skip through and use the application without considering the consequences. Our negligence of the terms and policies are only benefiting the developers.

License Agreements are lengthy and a chore to read, especially for our children who may not understand what they are complying with. So help them pickup the habit of checking the EULA, by browsing through and briefly explaining the important terms to them, especially if it is for an important service. Terms of Service; Didn’t Read is a site that makes understanding the agreements much simpler and less tedious for you.

Keeping your loved ones safe online.

Protect yourself and your loved ones from cybercriminals by changing these habits and be warier of your online activity. In addition to keeping yourself and your child informed about the latest online safety tips, it’s also crucial to keep your child’s device use in check. If your child is constantly being exposed to excessive amounts of screen time, it may lead to unhealthy behaviours growing up and delay their development of skills. You can help manage their screen time and device access without a fuss through the plano app.

*Subject to your device’s technical capabilities.

For many parents, managing their children’s screen time is a huge stressor they have to deal with on a daily basis.

Are you implementing screen time rules in vain?

More often than not, we parents turn to implement arbitrary screen time rules in our household only after we have noticed that our children are spending way too much time glued to their phones. And this, as research shows, may even lead to more problems in the household!

The ‘restrictive’ approach of policing our children through rules and punishments to control screen time can put a strain on parent-child relationships. In fact, in this digital age, screen time disagreements between parents and children are one of the biggest sources of conflicts in the household.

With screen time having such large implications on household dynamics, is there another way we can manage how our children use their devices?

The conflict-free solution: Android parental control apps

Fortunately, these days, there is a no-conflict alternative that many parents are turning to. This alternative relies on the phones and tablets themselves to manage children’s screen time and online safety, in essence, flipping the problem into the solution!

What is it? Parental control applications of course!

These apps serve as an android screen time (which allows you to find out how to check screen time on android devices your kids own), app blocker, and location tracking app all rolled into one. If you are considering using such apps, or are in the process of choosing one, you may be wondering:  How do I even begin to choose the best parental control app for my child’s android phone?

More options, more confusion

Given the variety of options available these days, finding the best parental control app for android to manage your child’s phone use can leave you frazzled and more frustrated than ever.

The good news is, we have just the answer for you. This app not only has parental control features, it has a suite of eye health features developed to protect your child’s vision by helping them foster good relationships with their devices from an early age.

So before you start downloading and testing multiple apps from your Play Store, read on for the answer on just how to set parental controls on Android using the plano application!

plano: The only android parental control app that you need

plano is a science-based parental management application that helps parents manage their children’s device use behavior from an early age. Supported by the Singapore Government and with affiliations to Singapore National Eye Centre and Singapore Eye Research Institute, Plano has become an indispensable parenting tool for more than 500,000 parents the world over!

Here’s how plano can help:

1. Blocking apps on android

As parents, our number one priority is always going to be the safety of our children – and that extends to the virtual world as well. As we constantly find ourselves juggling our professional obligations and our domestic duties, it is not always easy or possible to keep a watchful eye on our children 24/7.

This is where plano’s browser and app blocker android features can help.

How to block apps on Android:

You can simply hit the block apps settings icon in the plano app, and pick the apps you would like to prevent your children from accessing.

How to block websites on Android:

Similarly, you can toggle the block browser button on to as an internet feature for android and keep your children safe from harmful content online.

2. Location boundary (Android location tracking)

With stay home measures easy across the world, many of us will be finding our lives gradually return to the old normal i.e. going back to our offices for work, and our children heading to school instead of learning remotely. As such, it can become much more difficult to monitor your child’s phone activities, especially when you are not physically present near them.

plano allows you to set designated boundaries at a radius of 350m, 550m, or 1km of safe distance before the phone is blocked. It also makes for an effective android phone tracker app as you will receive push alerts when your child exits the designated boundaries you have set!

Of course, the first rule of the seamless integration of such a feature into yours and your child’s lives is to have an open, honest conversation about it. Being monitored or tracked is can feel extremely intrusive, even for kids. As such, explaining why they are being monitored in this way, and communicating your concerns about their phone use can help you get on the right page with you.

It also helps to allow them to understand when and where you will be setting the location boundaries. For instance, if you are setting a school-boundary as above, tell your child that you are doing so! This is so that they will adhere to them, and both you and your child are comfortable with having the feature on. Honesty is truly, the best policy.

The next couple of features enable you to use plano as a screen time app for android.

3. Device time scheduling

Doesn’t it just drive you crazy when your children whip out their phones in the middle of family dinner time? Or when they simply have to scroll through their social media feed when they are supposed to be doing their homework or worse, going to bed?

Thankfully, plano’s device time scheduling feature allows you to schedule specific time limits when your children are allowed to use their devices. Say goodbye to arguments and temper tantrums and let plano do the talking for you!

4. Eye break reminders

Did you know that taking regular breaks in between periods of screen exposure can help protect against myopia (shortsightedness) and eye strain?

As a parent, constantly having to remind your child to take an eye break from their devices can get exhausting. The good news is, plano’s eye break prompts can help to remind your child to take a much-needed device break every 30 minutes, for 90 seconds!

These half-hourly break reminders serve to create a habit of device breaks. This way, your child will be able to learn the right device habits to not only minimize his/her screen time but also safeguard his/her eyes from the aforementioned vision problems like myopia and eye strain.

If your child follows these break time reminders, they will earn points that can be used to request for fun activities and items in the plano Shop, a device-free reward system for kids! Your child can even extend the break by 5 minutes to earn higher points!

In this way, plano not only serves as a good eye protection app for android users, it also empowers your children to make good decisions and form lifelong habits when it comes to their device use behavior!

5. Remote locking (android screen lock)

Of course, as parents, we would like to have eyes on our children at all times. You may have even caught your kids sneakily using their devices when they were not supposed to; during bedtime for instance.

How can you prevent your children from using their phones, even when you are not around to check on them, once and for all? Screen locks on your child’s devices can help!

How to set a screen lock on Android:

plano’s remote locking function, when toggled on, helps you lock their screens and prevent them from accessing their phones!

Picking a parental control app from the myriad of apps – from the free ones to the pricier options – that saturate the market can be tough for any parent. However, when choosing one, ask yourself this: beyond helping me monitor my child, how will the app add value to my child’s life?

The plano app aims to do just that. On top of being a highly effective best android monitoring app, it helps foster good device habits from an early age. As any parent knows, our kids develop habits at a breathtakingly early age and rapid pace. Hence, an app that is able to empower both you and your child is extremely helpful and can make all the difference when it comes to raising your digital native safely!

Remember, it isn’t technology that should be viewed as a problem. Rather, it is the relationships that our children forge with their phones and tablets that need to be addressed! Download the only science-based eye health parental management app for free here

We’ve seen and even experienced the vast increase in screen time over the course of the last few months. For our school-going children especially, classes, parties, and even extra curricular activities pivoted online. But as lockdown restrictions ease and our children return to school, how do we help them wean back on the duration of screen time they’ve become so used to?

Screen time during the lockdown.

According to research done by plano, screen time among children increased screen time among children increased by about 20%. Termed as ‘Generation C’ by the team over at SuperAwesome, these kids are the ones who grew up through the digital age and the COVID-19 pandemic. Their report even showed that children spent about 50% more on a phone and a tablet for entertainment. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that kids spent more time on their devices before bedtime, especially on social media.

The increase in overall screen time  is therefore no surprise given that children had to use the internet to connect with their friends, attend classes, and even entertain themselves. Of course, as parents, we understood this and some of us may have even relaxed our usual screen time limitations. Our children who grew up in these times definitely led very different childhoods than those of previous generations.

Scaling back the screen time post lockdown.

Our children have definitely gotten accustomed to the screens. Now that there has been an ease in lockdown restrictions, there’s a lot more they can do again! You probably wouldn’t want to start confiscating their devices so soon lest they go cold turkey. It’s also going to be a little difficult to implement old screen time rules again. So what can we do to help Generation C, our children, cut back on their screen time post-lockdown?

Here are 3 easy steps you can take:

1. Talk to them gently about the change

No one really likes abrupt, impromptu changes. Not even your children. If they were used to certain freedoms regarding their screen time during the lockdown, let them know kindly that things have changed (again).

Set up an open line of communication telling them about what is expected of their screen time now that lockdown restrictions have relaxed. At the same time, ask them about their concerns. Are they concerned they still won’t be able to meet their best friends? If they are, negotiate an appropriate time they can use their devices to catch up with them and explain why these rules are necessary.

2. Start planning family events outdoors again

Do you live in an area where you’re allowed to go to the parks or the zoos once more? (With appropriate safety measures, of course). If you do, then lucky you! Why not plan a short outing with the family to bond outdoors just like before!

Filling up some portions in your family calendar with a few outdoor activities can help scale back some of that screen time. Instead of finding fun through online games, through some safely planned outdoor activities, your children can now find that same fun outdoors again. It could even be just half an hour at the nearby playground – that’s a great start to helping your children re-adjust.

3. Parental control apps are always there to help

Of course, with lockdown restrictions easing, that doesn’t mean our children will be instantly without their devices. They still need to use it, but moderately of course. One way to help manage their screen time is by downloading parental control apps like the plano app on their devices.

You can use the plano app to set device times on your child’s phone. For instance, you can schedule a no-device time during dinner or family-bonding time so that your child will be able to focus on activities away from the screen. The app also reminds your child to take a break from the screens every 30 minutes with device break reminders. During this time, your child won’t be able to use his/her device for 1-2 minutes and can take a quick eye break from the screens.

We want the best for our children and we wouldn’t want them to spend every day and night on the screens. Even after the lockdown, our children will still have their devices, but it’s important to teach them the right habits to manage their screen time.