A preventative measure or an invasion of privacy?

Right now, we already have apps for monitoring geolocation, apps for controlling what content children can see on the internet and on TV, apps giving access to the microphone, so parents can listen to the sounds taking place where their children are, and even apps that record everything that happens on the screen through video capture.

“While these tools may seem like a great solution to all the problems the parent of a digital native could have, one thing is certain: not all parental control apps work the same. This is why it is essential to analyse them and choose those which best fit your family’s values,” said Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO for ESET South Africa.

A lot of tools which, at first glance, seem very useful to parents, can turn out to be invasive for their kids, and this ends up provoking a different reaction to what the parent expected.

Instead of feeling protected and contained, the child may feel trapped and start to seek ways to escape these controls.

The key is not about which control you choose, but rather in the conversation around it, and in accompanying the child in the digital world.

It is about teaching them, through dialogue and with the support of digital tools, what the dangers and risks of the internet are. What their responsibilities are, what they should and shouldn’t do, and how they can protect themselves.

Parental control apps can be really useful with younger children, when they first start to use a computer or get their first cell phone. However, as they enter early adolescence, these controls will become increasingly difficult to introduce or keep using.

This means the key is to start removing the controls and gradually passing the responsibilities on as they grow older and learn how to behave in the digital world.

The goal should be for the child to enter adolescence fully empowered, understanding what risks exist on the internet and how to protect themselves, above all feeling confident in the knowledge they can talk to their parents if anything worries them. To achieve this, the dialogue needs to start long before the child reaches this age, right when they are first entering the digital world.

The key to making parental control a tool that is useful both to parents and to their children lies in it being a form of care and not a form of imposed control. Explain to your kids that the parental control app is a way for you to look after them in the digital world and that you are going to install it together.


Some apps include:

App control. Age-based filters are applied to manage which apps the child can access and use. These block inappropriate websites according to the child’s age, both individually and by category.

Geolocation. This allows you to check the device’s current location at any given moment.

Remember, your child might have a better understanding than you of how an app works or may be more adept at using the device in general, but you know more about what risks and dangers could be lying in wait for them. So, what could be better than using the technology together, and being able to enjoy it safely?

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