It’s a raging bull staring right at your face, holding your gaze, trying to break you down. Smartphone addiction can be mentally wearing, but with the right help, you too can overcome addiction’s tight grasp.

Caught in the vortex of the internet

We’ve all been there – the mindless browsing on Instagram and Facebook right before bed and after waking up, the compulsive need to bring your phone to the washroom, the inability to concentrate with your smartphone nearby. And let’s not get started when you feel a buzz or hear a ping from your phone. Who’s contacting me? Did someone like my latest photo? Are there cool and exciting updates? There’s always this desire to be on top of everything. For our children growing up in today’s digital age, there’s no denying that most of them experience this too.

Our ‘FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)’ culture has propagated a relentless itch to know everything and anything about other people’s lives. This is especially so with the “pics or it didn’t happen” generation – our children. Most of our children spend their idle time on social media – they share their lives on social media, they vicariously watch their friends’ lives through social media, they can sometimes get addicted to social media. 

While social media can be fun, it has also been reported as one of the most threatening platforms to our mental health. Since the inception of Instagram and Facebook stories in 2016 and 2017, respectively, our frivolous (and, at times obsessive) need to ‘know more’  drastically augmented. According to a report done by the Royal Society of Public Health, Instagram trumped the list as the most damaging application to teens’ mental well-being.

And yet our children carry on scrolling, scrolling, and scrolling. They tap, a few times, stare at the screen and – “oh look! Kendall Jenner just started an Instagram Live video. A few minutes won’t hurt, right?” We’ve seen it unfold: Those minutes turn into hours, the cycle repeats, and nothing changes. We remind them time and again to keep their phones away and we know time and again that an argument will ensue. Their eyes become slaves to the screen and symptoms of smartphone addiction begin to surface:

  • Unsuccessful attempts to use your smartphone less frequently
  • Excessive use that makes you lose track of time
  • When you turn to your smartphone for comfort in the hopes of relieving stress
  • Constant preoccupation with your smartphone

Escape from the shackles of addiction

It’s a small phone, but it glares at you with so much power over your life. How do you release yourself from its capture?

When addiction seizes us, detaching from it can be excruciating. It’s another sore layer that adds to the mental anguish that comes as a consequence of trying to curb addiction. Smartphone addiction withdrawals can take the form of heightened irritability, tension, restlessness; a loss of purpose without one’s phone.

Not all hope is lost though. You can take matters into your own hands! A recent digital detox phenomena in South Korea has seen South Korean teenagers checking themselves into detox centers to curb their smartphone addiction.

Smartphone addiction is rampant in South Korea. A survey conducted by the South Korean National Information Society Agency found that 43% found it hard to control the time spent on their smartphones. Personal anecdotes were shared by South Korean teenagers too. A teenager cited an instance when she knew she had to stop using her phone, but didn’t until dawn broke. The teenager noticed this about herself and checked herself into a smartphone detox center.

For many of us, we don’t have access to a digital detox center. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do anything about our excessive smartphone use. It may not be a replacement for detox centers, but parent apps like plano can help curb your child’s excessive device use. The app runs in the background of your child’s phone and reminds your child to take a break every 30 minutes from the screen. It also allows you, the parent, to set no-device time zones for your child so you can help limit their screen time too. If your child follows these prompts, they get to earn points. These points can then be used to request for fun items and activities in the plano shop to show your child that there is fun away from the screen.

If you are anything like me when I was in my twenties, you may have found yourself uttering these exact words. Working in the tech industry, my husband and I had felt the full effects of the hold technology had on our lives and had made a vow to raise our kids tech-free (no smartphones, tablets, TV, etc.) until they were well into their teens. As you may have guessed, this vow was made before we had our children and at a time when we were rather disenchanted with smartphone society.

After having our 2 children, we quickly understood that technology itself wasn’t dangerous. Rather, it is the problematic, unhealthy relationships that we form with them that result in negative health consequences. In fact, our kids’ smartphones, when used responsibly, serve to enhance many aspects of their lives. As we were hit with this realisation, my husband and I decided to re-examine how we wanted to raise our kids in this digital world. 

When it came down to it, we understood that as with everything in life, balance is essential – the same goes with the number of hours our kids spent on their tiny machines. Here are some of the parenting 411s I have picked up along the way when it came to helping my children develop a healthy relationship with their phones.

1. Protect them from ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’

When I was expecting my first child, I picked up a book by American author Richard Lourve, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit-Disorder, which really left an impression on me. In the book, Lourve uses the phrase, ‘nature-deficit-disorder,’ to describe the negative health consequences that arise as a result of our children spending less time with the natural world. These include myopia (short-sightedness), obesity and Vitamin D deficiency. 

The book made me reflect on my own childhood and how much more time I spent playing outdoors with my friends, as compared to kids these days who live dominantly in a digital environment indoors. The benefits of the outdoors on our children’s health are vast and should not be ignored. As parents, it is our responsibility to give our children the best childhood they can have, and this includes experiencing all the benefits nature has to offer.

2. Be a good role model

When my children got to a certain age, they started emulating everything me and my husband did. When I say everything, I mean everything – the good and unfortunately, the bad.

When it came to our smartphone habits, my husband and I made a conscious effort to limit our device use during our ‘sacred family time’ – family meals, gatherings, outings etc. This acted as a signal to our children on when it was appropriate to use their phones and when it wasn’t. We successfully avoided the, “well daddy/mummy uses his/her phone during dinner time,” tantrums and cultivated healthy device habits from a young age. Remember, our children model their behaviour after the environment they grow up in. From their eating habits to the way they walk and talk, our children learn by observing us. Hence, we have the power to mould their behaviour, including their screen habits, simply by setting a good example.

3. Educate them from a young age 

When it comes to your child’s online safety, you can never be too safe. From the moment they began to use their devices for schoolwork and entertainment purposes, my husband and I made it a top priority to educate our children on the perils of the digital world, which includes cyberbullying, gaming and screen addiction and phishing. We found that empowering our kids with such knowledge also took some of the pressure to constantly monitor their online activity off us.

As parents, it can be scary to see your children grow up in this digital age fraught with dangers. However, we need to understand that technology also enables them to easily explore our vast world just using their smartphones – something that we didn’t get the chance to do in our childhoods! Here’s where a parental management application can also come in handy – The plano application does just this and more.

Indeed,  is our responsibility to facilitate our little ones’ learning and development. Let’s empower them with all the tools needed to blossom in this world!

There are various apps out there that capture our child’s attention, and sometimes, too much attention. When this happens, it’s natural to want to block those apps. Here’s why you shouldn’t.

Why not?

When you block an app, how often do you explain to your child why? For example, if YouTube was blocked from your child without any prior warning, you’d probably have to face meltdowns, temper tantrums, and probably screaming. However, children are smart, and they know how to work around their restrictions. While your child may have limited access to the app at home, he/she could easily find access to it in school through their friends, or simply through another device (smart TVs, anyone?). So when you block apps on your child’s phone, this may trigger withdrawal symptoms and spur them on to find alternative sources to use the app. Pretty counterproductive, right?

Well, not all is bad though. Blocking apps help to protect your child from harmful content, and that’s necessary. If this is your justification, explain this clearly to your child. However, if what you’re dealing with has more to do with excessive amounts of time they’ve spent on those apps, perhaps you could look at other solutions.

What could you do instead?

1. Negotiate

Nothing beats the power of conversation. Clearly setting out smartphone boundaries with your child can go a long way in cutting down their device use. Understand why they require time on their devices and come to a consensus about their screen time. After all, blocking apps can only go so far – when you block one app, chances are, your young one is just going to jump to another app to find entertainment. There are numerous alternatives online. Negotiating a schedule with them, however, will allow them to understand the need for responsible regulation.

2. Install parental apps

Aside from negotiation, there’s also a need to monitor your child’s smart device use to ensure that they are indeed sticking to the set schedule that you’ve agreed on. Parental apps can help. Apps like plano run in the background of your phone to help monitor your child’s smart device use. You can also use the app to set a device-free time. Additionally, the app will remind your child to take a break from their devices from time to time.

3. Take them out

A sure-win way of getting your child off the screens is to take them outdoors. This doesn’t have to cost much, and in fact, it could be free of charge! The beach, the local parks or gardens, the nearby playground – these are areas where you can bring your child to play to have fun away from the screens. Spending time outdoors is also proven to safeguard your child’s eyes from eye anomalies like myopia. If you’d like to enjoy some discounted device-free activities, check out the plano shop for exclusive discounts just for plano users*! Activities include outdoor ziplining adventures, and even discounts to the zoo.

Not all apps are bad, rather it’s how you manage your child’s time on those apps. Instead of blocking apps, try the above alternative methods to help manage your child’s screen time. You might just surprise yourself at how simple yet effective these methods are. 

*these discounts & activities are only available to Singapore plano users.

Who else’s children are growing up in the digital age? Well, for the 21st century parent, most of our children are. And, we probably need digital help like parent apps to monitor our child’s smart device use.

Who likes being controlled?

No one. No one likes being controlled, especially not our children who just want their own freedom on the internet. Sometimes however, it’s more than necessary. In today’s tech age, every device user has access to an overabundance of information and entertainment, our children included. It’s easy for our children to get sucked into this internet vortex and then struggle to get out of it. That’s when their screen time starts to border on dangerous.

Excessive screen time can be a cause of concern for our children’s eye health as it can lead to eye health anomalies. What can we do about it though? We can’t just take their devices away from them because these devices practically supplement their daily lives – from school work to connecting with friends, it’s just part of the 21st century. And there’s no way around it. Thankfully, parent apps can help.

A blessing in disguise for our children’s eyes.

What are the repercussions of screen time though? And how do parent apps help?  According to a report produced by plano, prolonged periods spent looking at the screen can cause Digital Eye Strain (DES). DES is a recognised eye and vision health problem. A common symptom of DES is dry, tired eyes. Parent apps can help to manage this.

Technology is innovative. Today, we live in an era where parent apps have functions to monitor your child’s daily eyecare habits on top of the already present app blocking features. plano is one such app. The app caters to parents and children of the digital age. It encourages children to take ownership of their own device use and practice daily eye care habits. In turn, parents get to relax while knowing that their child’s eyes are in safe hands. The app prompts children to use their devices at a safe distance, and take regular eye care breaks to prevent DES. Additionally, your child gets to earn points which they can use to request for outdoor activities and enrichment classes offered in the app.

Parent apps aren’t all restrictive and unpleasant. Although they do sometimes dampen your child’s fun on the internet, it is a necessary “evil” (for them, at least). These apps can benefit your little one in the long run, and lift a load off your shoulder. Now, you don’t have to continuously look over junior’s shoulder to make sure he’s using the phone in a correct manner. You could just use an app.

What a time to be alive.

You’ve just had a discussion with your friend about the latest pair of Adidas shoes you are eyeing. The next thing you know, as you are scrolling through your Facebook feed, you spot an advertisement for the very shoes you were talking about! 

For many of us, this scenario has happened several times with different products. What exactly is going on? Are our phones eavesdropping on our private conversations? If not, could it be that our mobile activity is being tracked by major brands for better advertisement targeting purposes?

If you have the feeling that your conversations are being recorded by your phone, you are not alone. A recent study showed that 43% of American smartphone owners hold this belief as well! Unfortunately for conspiracy theorists, this is unlikely the case.

Our digital footprints are more valuable than our private conversations.

While it technically is possible for huge companies like Facebook to collect audio files of our conversations, transcribe and analyse each of them before finally targeting ads individually to each of us, it is simply not productive for them to do so. Perhaps in the future, machine learning and AI technology will be sophisticated enough to do this efficiently. For now, however, such an undertaking would drain time and monetary resources rapidly and companies who engage in such efforts will likely go bust in no time.

Instead, companies do the next best thing – they ‘follow’ our digital footprints. In other words, the Facebooks and Amazons of the world track our mobile activity in these ways: they analyse what we like, share and search for, identify the content we spend more time on, notifications we click on (a strong indicator of our interests) and scrutinise other online behaviour patterns that they deem valuable. 

This may explain why you constantly feel that your phone is recording your conversations! In the earlier scenario, your interest in the Adidas shoes may have been ‘picked up’ not through your phone microphone but is a result of Facebook gleaning information from your complex digital footprint! 

How should you protect your privacy from prying eyes?

Before you decide to give up on smartphones for good and make the giant leap to the old Nokia brick in protest of companies scrutinising your online behaviour, consider these ways to protect yourself:

1. Be careful with the apps you download

Research shows that an estimated 70% of Android apps collect your personal data and sell it to companies! If you are concerned about your privacy, you can, for starters, stick to downloading apps strictly from your device’s official application store. Third-party apps could be malicious and may collect your information for nefarious activities. Moreover, you can also limit the amount of data your apps are collecting by giving limited permissions to access the minimum amount of information enough for the apps to perform their intended functions.

2. Accepting cookies

Cookies are data pieces that are used to remember things about the websites that you use. While many cookies are harmless, some companies use their website cookies to track your behaviour and collect your information from websites they did not originate from! Choose wisely which websites you allow to give you a cookie. To do this, you can set your browser privacy settings to ask your permission before accepting a cookie from a particular website.

3. Update your Antivirus Software

Keep your antivirus software on your smart devices constantly updated to ensure that your antivirus has the capacity to fight the latest spyware. This will go a long way in deterring viruses that stalk your online activity and infringe on your privacy by mining your data. 

4. Optimize your passwords

For added security against any data breach, you should use strong, complex passwords that vary across the sites and apps you use. However, the disadvantage of having different and complex passwords is that you might find it difficult to remember these passwords. Here is where a password manager app can come in handy.

All in all, while we can be (almost) sure that brands are not hacking the microphones in our phones to record our conversations for their marketing purposes, they have been listening to us in a very different way. Arguably, tracking our mobile activity and mining our digital footprint reveals a lot more to these companies than hacking our microphones ever could. In essence, our privacy is our responsibility, so remember to take proactive measures to protect yourself in this digital age!

Sometimes we look at our children like they’re digital prisoners – eyes, mind, and hands chained to their tiny screens. But screen time isn’t all that bad, it’s our relationship with the screens that matter.

The digital parent anxiety.

As parents who are raising digital natives, we know that our child’s screen time can be a major source of anxiety and frustration. We worry that our children will become obsessed and addicted to the screens. We worry that they won’t spend enough time with their family or friends. We worry that they may only come to know of a world in cyberspace.

Other times, we may feel guilty of our own device use. After all, our own device use may have inspired our children’s use. Sometimes we think to ourselves, “I wish I hadn’t used my phone so often in front of my daughter/son”, because what do you know? Now they do it all the time – from the car rides back home from school, to the dinner tables, and even to the toilets!

While some children’s screen time is more alarming than others, it’s also best to remember that screen time isn’t inherently bad. Children, like us, spend their time on the screen for various reasons. From doing their homework to entertainment purposes, the screens serve great purposes for us. So instead of cutting the screens out totally, what we could do instead is regulate it and negotiate with our children how long they want/need to spend on the screen.

Setting the ground rules.

I once asked my 8-year old who would spend hours a day staring at her tiny screen, “what do you like to do online?” She responded with a shrug and the typical, “nothing much. I just like watching dog videos.” Dog video after dog video? Sure, I like a dog video or two myself, especially those adorable ones where mums let their babies sleep with their dogs. But she can’t possibly go on spending hours on end like this, it’s inane. I sat my 8-year old down and asked, “how many dog videos do you actually really like?” She replied, “maybe 2”. I told her we’ll be limiting her to 2 dog videos a day.

Of course, you can imagine the protestations, the whining, the questioning. But I asked her, “wouldn’t you prefer to see an actual dog? Wouldn’t you rather go to the park?” I then continued to explain to her about all that she’s missing out on when she’s staring at a screen. By the time I was done, she agreed, “okay, 2 dog videos a day”.Negotiation and practical reasoning work well with children. The key to this is to inform them why limiting and managing their screen time is important, and letting them have a say in these rules. Since it’s their screen time, it’s important they take ownership of it and have the independence to decide how much time is too much time on the screens. However, bear in mind that a healthy dose of screen time depends on their age. For instance, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), children aged 3-4 years old should not be given more than 1 hour of screen time. 

The screen isn’t all that mean.

Child screen time is just something that we parents need to accept – the world is changing digitally, and so are our children. It is therefore necessary that we teach them the importance of cultivating a healthy and responsible relationship between them and the screen. The plano app can help you do just that. The app runs in the background of your child’s phone, and reminds your child to take a break every 30 minutes from the screen. It also allows you, as the parent, to set no-device time zones for your child so that he/she can participate in family activities device-free! 

In this digital age, children explore smart devices right from a young age. For better or worse, smartphones and tablets are becoming more ubiquitous as tools to keep kids engaged during their free time. Letting your child have a smartphone is a great step forward in keeping them updated on the affairs of the modern world. However, it is important to teach your kids proper smart device use, as they may stumble on something potentially dangerous on the internet. Here are some tips to help your kids develop good practices with smart devices.

Set a good example

One of the best ways to develop good smart device habits for children is by being a good role model yourself. Your child learns by watching; so it is important for you to follow the practices you wish your child to adopt. Here’s a quick list of things you should be mindful of:

1) Always remember to keep your smartphone away during conversations or other social interactions. 

2) Avoid using smart devices when you are behind the wheel. Stop your vehicle if you have to go through maps or have to browse information online. 

3) Always be polite while using your smartphone in public. Avoid loud ringtones or music when people are around.

Give clear instructions for device use

As a parent, it is important to set clear rules on how your kids can use their smart device. You can start by setting aside fixed hours for smartphone use and for them to surrender their smart devices at night. This way, they can get adequate and uninterrupted sleep. 

Most of the so-called “free” apps/games that kids download usually have in-app purchases. If your app store is linked to your credit card, your child can possibly make unwanted purchases in a few clicks of a button. So, do not allow your kid to download any game or app without your permission. Here are the 3 simple rules to set;

  1. Set aside fixed hours for smartphone use
  2. Surrender smart devices 2 hours before bedtime
  3. Seek permission before downloading apps

Keep track of online activity

Always check what your children downloads and uses online after you give them a smartphone. Social media can have dire consequences on kids if they don’t know how to use it responsibly. So, don’t allow social media access to your kids until they have reached a certain stage of maturity. When the time does come to allow social media access, make sure you have control over the password to keep track of who is sharing content with whom.

Educate about age-inappropriate content

When your children are old enough to use smart devices, you should a discussion on age-inappropriate content, including safe browsing, online etiquette, and more. Today, parents around the globe are constantly facing the menace of inappropriate content like gore, pornography, and sexual predators. Educate your child on how to react responsibly when they receive inappropriate messages. Let your child know the legal consequences of sharing or forwarding inappropriate content with others.

Protect them from cyberbullying

With round-the-clock availability of smartphone access, it is now tougher than ever for kids to avoid cyberbullies on social media platforms. Guide your children on the signs of cyberbullying and what they should do if they become victims of online bullying. Make sure you know the passwords of various social media apps your kid is using. Keep track of the people who are messaging your child and the nature of the content they are sharing.

A smart device is a marvel of today’s world, but its use is not without risk. While it is certainly not possible to keep children away from all their beloved gadgets, it is every parent’s responsibility to make sure the safe use of smart devices. Having to supervise 24/7 however, is pretty difficult. This is where parental control applications come in. Look out for ones that empower and cultivate healthy device use, over one that is about total control and governance.

This technological era has witnessed a tremendous increase in the number of mobile applications – there are an astounding 5.8 million apps in the App Store and Play Store. There is so much use including entertainment, education, services and more. Parenting is no longer exempted from the technological world. There is a wide range of apps that could potentially make parenting smarter and easier. We’ve handpicked the best apps for the smart parent.

#1 Baby and Child First Aid

The app developed by British Red Cross offers step-by-step videos, animations, and advice on handling emergencies for your child with first aid. Anything from broken bones, burns or choking.

You can also ask questions, get your doubts clarified and seek advice from experts with the forum on the app. You can record medications, which also comes with a variety of tips and a handy checklist. Another amazing feature of the app is the self-assessment of your skills and learning in the Test Section of the app. Best of all, it’s free.

#2 CDC Milestone Tracker

Mother and daughter playing together

An important thing for young parents is to be able to follow and track the developmental milestones of their baby. The CDC Milestone Tracker (free) is perfectly suited for babies from two months to 5 years.

All you have to do is add your child by entering their information in the app. You can add details of multiple children. It’s an interactive platform, with an illustrative checklist of significant developmental milestones. When there are developmental concerns, it advises screening tests and meeting a doctor.

#3 plano Parental Control App

Asia pretty little girl and handsome boy play mobile phone, looking to something in their phone

Children of this decade remain hooked to the mobile screens, too young to be aware of the detrimental health effects when the screen time goes beyond what’s recommended. Our free parental control app is primarily designed to cultivate healthy smart device habits in children with a broader goal of managing myopia and smartphone addiction.

It sends alerts when your child has crossed limits and has options to exercise parental control when the usage is beyond the set limit. It also monitors the posture of your child, calibrates a healthy face-to-screen distance at every use, filters device-induced blue light, incorporates a reward system that encourages the child to play outdoors and much more to maintain the health of your child’s vision.

#4 Baby Monitor 3G

Close up of Asian family packing cardboard box. Moving house concept.

The Baby Monitor 3G provides a watchful eye over your baby. It’s a godsend for mothers who opt to work, leaving their children to nannies or grandparents. The application transfers the live video feed to your smartphone, even during bedtime and when the lights are switched off during the night. It also has audio enabled, so you can hear their voice and cries. The app functions on both Android and iOS Platforms and works on multiple devices. This way, both parents can keep a watchful eye on their kids at the same time.

#5 News-o-Matic

News-o-Matic, as the name suggests is a news app with hundreds of fresh articles written for kids. The reading level of the articles suits that of a child. This way, kids can get interested in current affairs, sans the technical jargon that usually comes in news articles. The app covers a wide range of topics including sports, science, technology, entertainment and more. What’s more, is that the articles are verified for age-appropriation by a child psychiatrist. By reading, it fuels children’s creativity, technological interest, inculcates reading habit and helps the children stay tuned to the latest updates in the world around.

What’s the most beautiful childhood memory etched in your mind, even after all these years of living as an adult? Isn’t it the splashing in rain puddles, exploring every little creek, attending parties, making trips to the playground and squelching mud between your toes? Our childhood experiences are invaluable, and most of us wouldn’t trade it, even for a sack of gold.

Captivated by mobile phones, video games, and magical web cartoons, children today prefer to stay indoors most of the time. In this technology-driven world, because of safety concerns or the latest addictive games that promised companionship and entertainment, we have restricted not just our children, but also ourselves from going beyond the confines of our homes.  

Why do children go crazy over video games? Because after a structured and tightly-scheduled academic curriculum at school, they find mobile games and web cartoons stress-free and are the best companions to relax without having to go out of their comfort zones. And as parents, we find this a safe method of keeping them occupied as they are under our supervision and the safety of our homes, after a hectic workday.

Isn’t this generation of children missing out on a very funny, exploratory and adventurous childhood that the previous generations had? Not just that, psychiatrists claim that restricting children to the indoors may result in isolation, depression and a greater chance of them becoming a victim to cyber-bullying.

Here are a few important benefits of creating a regular outdoor play environment for children.

#1 There are health benefits in the long-term

Nature in Okinawa and girl’s portrait

By being bound comfortably inside homes, children that lack fitness are prone to become obese and Vitamin-D deficient. Playing outdoors increases immunity by strengthening muscles, reducing the risk of diseases like obesity, heart problems, and promotes the overall development of the child’s health. 

Prolonged exposure to mobile phones, television or electronic gadgets may affect the kid’s vision. Engaging outdoors for longer will increase the child’s farsightedness due to pupil restriction in bright daylight. There are also parents who worry about their kids getting infected by germs in the environment. However, research shows that children are prone to microbes, germs, and diseases like Asthma when they are restricted inside a closed surrounding.

#2 Children can learn social skills

A lot of kids today are comfortable with networking or communicating over text messaging or social media platform, but aren’t getting along well in person. This is because they are not used to face-to-face social interactions. When they play with other kids of their age group, they pick up social skills to meet and greet new people, to make friends, to work together, to share and co-operate and above all, they get to understand the art of respecting people around.

#3 Outdoor play fuels creativity and intellectual thinking

Adorable baby girl sitting on play mat and playing toy at home

When children are let outdoors, rather than engaging in structured activities, they are free to play as they wish, and many times, invent their own games and rules. They also learn how to abide by the rules and being disciplined. They strive to win every game while putting in a lot of effort to move beyond their comfort zones. They also understand and innovate ways to tackle difficult situations, which fosters creativity. They become better decision-makers.

#4 Acquire better Motor skills

Outdoor games also promote better motor coordination for children. They acquire agility and better balance by playing outdoors getting along with all that is offered by nature. The list is never-ending. Exploring the natural phenomenon by sweating out in the hot sun or rolling in the mud offers a better engagement of all the senses and so letting the children play outdoors is a must. As parents, each one of us is responsible to ensure that the children are not glued to the television 24/7, but they enjoy the benefits and channel their energy in a meaningful way by playing outdoors.

Since the smartphone boom took over, employees started to carry their own smartphones and personal digital assistants to their workplace. It’s a win-win for both employees and employers. While employees get increased flexibility and comfortability in the use of their own devices with which they are more familiar, employers find an increase in productivity and lower equipment costs.

With this rapid invasion of smart devices in workplaces, new threats like the breach of security, privacy, and more have emerged. This led to the introduction of Mobile Device Management (MDM), which helps corporations in exercising better control over the proprietary/sensitive data and protect them from unauthorised access. This helps them to optimize the functionality and security of every device, both employee-owned device and the company-owned devices that operate every day in an organization. With this, the administrator can inspect, add profiles, remove profiles or erase data on devices.

What’s so bad about MDM, anyway?

In certain ways, this invades the privacy of employees. With Mobile Device Management, the administrator is able to monitor every activity in the browser of the user from personal emails, pictures, text messages to highly confidential data including bank PINs and passwords. The administrator is able to monitor their activity over other third-party applications installed in their smartphones and can forcefully stop the user from accessing certain applications. Their ability to track lost or stolen devices can cross boundaries beyond their purpose of design when they are able to track the exact location of their employees.

Apple & MDM

Apple introduced MDM in iOS 4, and it offered enterprises an ability to gain control over registered iOS devices. Later with constant updates in the future versions, the MDM platform from Apple and other third-party application providers become an inevitable tool for enterprises.

Parental Control Apps with MDM Technology

For a lot of parental control features like remote locking, blocking apps and more to exist in Apple’s iOS, app makers use MDM to make this possible, and have been using it for years. This was obviously not the reason MDM was created and designed for, but parental control apps have used it as a way to introduce many features.

But recently, these applications like OurPact were pulled from the App Store because of their use of MDM. For the improper use of MDM, they were found to invade the privacy of users and garner sensitive personal data like location, emails, camera, etc. of their mobiles. This might have been seen as leaving users of apps like this, namely children, vulnerable victims to cyberbullying and other threats to the personal safety of children.  

A possible workaround for parents would be to use apps that don’t make use of MDM technology, like plano. What plano’s iOS feature set aims to do instead is geared towards cultivating healthy device habits, that in the long run, would prove much more beneficial that outrightly controlling the use of smart devices in children.