Parental control apps are like our digital parenting assistants. However, are you relying too much on these apps? At the end of the day, these apps are just that – digital assistants. Ultimately, you’re still the head parent in charge.
The training wheels of our children’s devices
Think of parental control apps like training wheels for your digitally-wired children. While these apps help them to balance their screen time and keep them safe, you can’t rely on them forever. Your children will have to navigate the dangers of cyberspace and be discerning on the internet.
They have to learn how to be responsible for their own screen time, and take care of their device habits. These parental control apps are merely there to facilitate healthy device use. As a parent, you play a pivotal role in shaping your child’s mindset and smartphone behaviour, so you can’t just rely on parental control apps entirely. The end goal is to hand our children control over their smart device use.
Where to begin?
You can start off by using parental control apps when your child gets his/her first smartphone. The key is to communicate to your child clearly that you are downloading an app to keep track of his/her screen time, and let him/her know why. Let your child know about the reasons behind any specific no-device times, or the reason why you’re only giving him/her a specific amount of time to use the phone. For instance, if it’s dinner time, tell your child that no phones are allowed at the dinner table. If it’s time for homework, tell your child that it’s time to focus on the books. As the old adage goes: there’s a time and place for everything.
Children are prone to asking for another minute on the phone, and while we parents always want to avoid a meltdown, it’s important to stand your ground. Be consistent with the amount of time you’ve given your child to instill discipline and responsibility. If your child insists that he/she has more homework to be done, sympathise and give them an extension. Ask your child how much more time he/she needs to complete the homework and stick to that as the maximum extension. When that’s done, it’s important to keep a close eye on your child too.
If your child is finished with his/her homework and wants to use the device for entertainment, it’s important not to fall into the trap of ‘helicopter parenting’. Helicopter parenting occurs when parents pay extra close attention to every single one of his/her child’s actions. If you have a compulsive need to know every app your child is using and what sort of content your child is consuming or posting, pull back. This can hinder your relationship with your child. Instead, set device limits using your parental control app. The plano app helps you to set device time limits. If your child tells you he/she needs 30 minutes of phone time, you can schedule a “no-device” time frame to begin after the 30 minutes is over.
Let your child know that it’s one way to keep his/her screen time in order. If you’re concerned about specific content online, have an open and honest conversation with your child about such content – be clear about what type of content is safe, and what is strictly off limits. Creating a positive relationship with your child will help build trust and understanding.
Removing the training wheels
A parental control app helps to facilitate and guide your child’s smartphone use in today’s digital age. Your role as a parent helps enhance their confidence to use the internet safely and responsibly. Parental control apps help to coach our children to balance their screen time. Just like training wheels, we hope that our children will be able to grow up and do without them. The one thing that stays constant however, is your role as a parent.