With phones providing so much access to the internet, messaging and social media sites we have to stop and wonder what our children are looking at. Strangers can message your child on Facebook posing as another child. Adult content can pop up on the screen without warning. What are our children being exposed to? As a parent you need to do your due diligence and set up parental controls on your child’s phone.
We’ve created a step-by-step guide on how to use Android Parental Controls to protect your child’s digital life.
Google Play Store Parental Controls
You can set up Android parental controls directly in the Google Play Store to restrict what type of content your child or teen has access to downloading on their phone. The apps will still come up in the search, but they will be denied from downloading.
Follow these instructions to set up controls on your child’s device:
- On the Android device you want Parental Controls on, open the Google Play Store app.
- In the top left corner, tap Menu – Settings – Parental Controls.
- Turn “Parental Controls” On.
- Create a PIN.
- Tap the type of content you want to filter. (Apps & Games, Movies, TV, Books, Music)
- Choose how to filter or restrict access.
Google Family Link
Google Family Link allows you to set digital ground rules for your children and teens. Download the Family Link to help guide them as they learn, play and explore online. Notifications allow you to block or approve apps your child is trying to download from the Google Play Store.
Manage their screen time with screen time activity reports. Not all screen time is created equal. Family Link shows teacher recommend apps that you can add directly to your child’s Android device.
Chrome Parental Controls
Google Family Link has replaced the Chrome Supervised Users and is the current Parental Control Monitoring Software for Chrome. What that means for your child’s browsing experience is the following:
- Children won’t have access to apps and extensions from Chrome Web Store.
- Children can’t use incognito mode.
- Parents can manage the websites their children can visit on Chrome, and limit their children’s ability to grant permissions to websites.
- If “Try to block mature sites” has been turned on for your child in Family Link, Chrome browsing tries to block sexually explicit and violent sites.
You can also download an add-on to your child’s Google Chrome to block adult content. Parental Control- Adult Content Blocker is a free add-on that blocks porn sites and protects your child from sexually explicit adult content.
Android Parental Monitoring Apps
With a parental control monitoring app you can track your child’s Android activity and control what they have access to. Parents are able to see activities including texts, private messages, web browsing history, social media, photos, videos and more. Parental control monitoring apps are a great tool in preventing your child from becoming a victim of cyberbullying or being exposed to an online predator.
Our favorite app is PhoneSpector. This app allows you to control and monitor your child’s phones and texts. It also provides you with GPS location tracking of the device so you know where they are at all times. We reviewed the top 5 parental monitoring apps here.
YouTube Parental Controls
YouTube is the source for entertainment, videos and TV shows. To keep your kids entertained, but to filter out the adult content, YouTube offers a parental control feature called Restricted Mode. Essentially it avoids the most inappropriate and offensive video content on YouTube.
- Open YouTube app on Android device, tap on the three dots
- Tap on “Settings” in the account menu options.
- Toggle on “Restricted Mode Filtering”
- Choose “Strict” in the Restricted Mode Filtering options.
Facebook is the most used social media platform today. It requires its users to be 13 years of age or older to sign up. To make sure your child isn’t being exposed to adult content or inappropriate ads and has privacy settings on to protect them, follow these steps.
- Go to the settings tab on your child’s Facebook app on their phone and scroll to ‘Privacy shortcuts’
- Go to ‘Privacy Check-up’. This takes you through three steps to make sure your child is sharing their content with the right people.
- Select continue to choose who to share Facebook posts with. This could be a link, video, a photo or a story. Make sure your child has selected ‘friends’ to prevent strangers seeing your child’s content.
- The next section on the ‘Privacy checker’ is all about your child’s profile, including who they share their phone number, email address and birthday with. We would recommend your child provides as little information as possible. If you do want to include the data, simply ensure the ‘friends’ options is clicked here.
- On the main menu – click ‘Who can see my stuff‘ – If your child has selected ‘friends’ on the ‘Privacy check-up beforehand, ‘friends’ will be selected here too
- Anyone can send you a Facebook ‘Friends’ requests but if you want to make sure only ‘friends of friends’ can, click this option under ‘Who can send me friend requests‘.
Blocking people on Facebook – If your child has been harassed on Facebook or would like to block people causing them harm, tap ‘ How do I stop someone bothering me’ and type in their name. Facebook also gives you the option to report the user that is harassing you.
Facebook has created a separate Messenger app designed just for teens and kids. They have partnered with parents and experts to create Messenger Kids. This app makes it easier for kids to safely video chat and message with family and friends. The app offers masks, frames, stickers and GIFs and kids learn to express themselves.
Parents get to decide who their kids can connect with on Messenger Kids and can access their messages at any time. Parents can block people in the app and report content that is not appropriate. The app is also ad-free.
These Android parental controls will keep your child safe while scrolling on their phones. With children having access to everything from the touch of a screen it is crucial that we take these steps to protect them. Getting involved in your child’s digital life can save them from the psychological and long term effects of cyberbullying or explicit content. Don’t wait for something to happen, be proactive and take action now.