Putting The Control In Parental Control Apps: Is Control Always Bad?


This may be an unpopular opinion, but control is good. When it comes to our child’s smartphone use, control is often necessary.

What’s in a word?

Let’s talk about the word ‘control’ for a bit. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, ‘control’ can be used as a noun or a verb. Usually, it is used to mean having power or influence over something or someone. When we think of being controlled, we think of ourselves being at the mercy of someone who holds a higher authority than us.

Now put control between ‘parental’ and ‘apps’ and you have: parental control apps. Often used as a measure to monitor a child’s smartphone use, parental control apps are typically met with resentment from children. Why?

It’s because of the word, ‘control’. Naturally, people don’t like to be controlled. According to psychologist, Dr. Golden, feeling like you’re being controlled can spark anger and frustration because it can feel as though you’re being manipulated. So, when your child feels like they’re being controlled through an app, they react with intense feelings of annoyance and resentment.

Change their perspective.

As mentioned earlier however, control is good; necessary in fact. Telling your child that you’re installing a parental control app on their phone however, is often met with protestations. So how do you go about broaching this touchy subject with your child?

Try to empathise with your child first. Reassure them that you have times when you find yourself engrossed with your phone too (think work, entertainment, social media, etc.). However, that doesn’t mean you focus all your attention on the phone and neglect everyone else around you. The app is therefore there to remind your child to use his/her phone in moderation.

Parental control apps like the plano app allow you as a parent, to set no-device time schedules. For instance, if your child is constantly bringing his/her phone to the dinner table to use, you can use the app to lock the device during dinner. After establishing empathy, tell your child that this isn’t done to spoil their fun, but to help him/her develop the right device habits. Being responsible for his/her own device use helps your child to understand the importance of taking ownership for his/her own actions as well.

As parents, we’re naturally concerned with our child’s health too. Spending prolonged periods of time on devices can also be detrimental to one’s eye health. Children who spend extended hours staring at their tiny screens are susceptible to developing conditions like myopia.

According to plano’s report, excessive near work activity such as smartphone use can heighten the progression of myopia. The plano app prompts your child every 30 minutes to take a break from their phones and rest their eyes. It also reminds your child to place their phones at a good distance of 30cm away from their eyes to reduce strain and stress on their eyes. Let your child know that parental control apps like plano aren’t there to be a nag, but to protect and safeguard their eye health.

If your child follows all these reminders and prompts from the plano app, they get to earn points. These points can be used in the plano Shop where your child can request for fun device-free activities like football classes, or outdoor playground passes – a great way to motivate your child to take breaks from his/her phone!

Control isn’t all that bad.

Control is good. It sets rules and boundaries to keep your child safe and responsible. It is however important for your child to understand the rationale behind the control. Once they understand your perspective and your good intentions, chances are, they’ll be more open to parental control apps.

At the end of the day, we do all things with love and care for our children. It’s therefore important to translate this to them. They’re our bundle of joy after all, and we want the best for them.

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