Non-intrusive online monitoring app protects kids and guides parents

'FYI play it safe' is an app that not only helps to protect your child online, but it also assists parents to understand where their children are at emotionally.

If you’re a parent, you probably know the anxieties of modern parenting, including the continuous stress of keeping your kids safe online.

Trying to create limits, impose restrictions and constantly monitor your child roaming free across the uncontrolled, and often dangerous, digital landscape can be exhausting. Still, as a responsible parent you must keep your children safe, whether it’s online or offline and whether they like it or not.

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In some ways, kids are even more vulnerable in the digital world where parental oversight is more challenging. When online they can get groomed by sex predators, connect with drug sellers, being victimised through cyberbullying, or coming across harmful content happens too easily. According to research, it takes less than an hour for online grooming to be successful, which means parents need real-time monitoring for every new digital space your child enters, pronto. If it is an online monitoring app which simultaneously saves you as parent time, and gives you a consensual way to meet your responsibilities to keep your child safer in the digital environment while also ensuring that they conduct themselves acceptably, all the better.

Online monitoring and mothering might clash

Researchers have found that consistent parental monitoring of children’s online and mobile activities reduces problematic internet behaviours and that it helps to raise responsible digital citizens. Still, mandatory phone checks and web history scans can also create an atmosphere of mistrust and conflict in the parent-child relationship, so finding a way to manage your child’s online activities might not be as easy as it seems.

ALSO READ: Cyberbullying – What schools and parents should be doing

FYI play it safe app
The ‘FYI play it safe’ app. Image: Supplied

How can parents monitor their children online?

Rachelle Best, a tech-entrepreneur and mother of a teenager, created an Android app, called FYI play it safe, to give parents a better way to monitor their children’s online activities. Using AI (artificial intelligence) technology, the online monitoring app scans every app, online search and chat across your child’s various devices. But, it only alerts you as a parent or caregiver when there are potentially harmful communication or activity. The app works wonderfully in tandem with widely used free apps like Google Family Link and monitors for cyberbullying, online predator contact, access to adult content and a range of mental health issues affecting teens. This includes suicide ideation.

As a parent of a maturing child, Best says that she knows how important it is to balance keeping them safe, while supporting them in their natural development of autonomy and self-control. “Actively parenting in the digital environment is extremely challenging because many parents don’t engage with their kids there. Parental oversight typically takes the form of scrutinising their kids’ digital history, which means they can only be reactive, when the best protection is knowing about the issue as it happens.”

She says that the driving value of the online monitoring app is ‘protect them, but respect them’ and that is why the app should not be perceived as spyware. “It creates an opportunity for the parent and the child to mutually agree on the way to best keep them from harm and to avoid potentially dangerous situations.”

Tap into the app

Available to all Android devices, the app takes on the detailed monitoring of communications and activities across all the child’s apps and screens. Even newly downloaded apps and sites are included automatically – something that is very important as your child’s app and site usage is ever-changing.

The app processes language used as it scans for signals of online bullying and alerts parents if children are engaging with content relating to depression, self-harm and suicide. It serves as an early warning system, which empowers parents to take action, open up conversations and get help if necessary. “In essence, FYI play it safe helps parents know what conversations they need to be having with their kids, which is especially relevant when it comes to teens who can be inscrutable during their quest for independence. It pinpoints potential issues and enables you to deal with them swiftly. The app is therefore an enabler of more open and productive communications between parents and children.”

FYI play it safe is an app that will not only help you keep your child safer online, but it will also guide you as parent when it comes to your child’s emotional needs.

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