Flickr, Steve Paine, https://www.flickr.com/photos/umpcportal/4581962986

Nowadays, it seems as if every child is born with a smartphone in their hands. Whether or not that is something positive is unimportant. What is important, however, is the fact that many parents let their children browse the internet on their devices every day without knowing what they are exposing them to.

Children browsing the internet can be exposed to mature content or to strangers with bad intentions, not to mention the fact that children often spend too much time online, which can lead to addiction or other serious health problems. If you want to avoid these problems with your child, here are some of the most effective ways to monitor and even control the content your children are exposed to online.

First of all, if you want to control the amount of time your child spends on their devices, you should know that most devices have some sort of parental control feature built-in, but for more specific uses (only blocking access to certain apps on the phone so that your children can still call you, for example), you will need to download certain apps.

For Microsoft devices such as Xbox consoles and computers running Windows, you can limit the usage time from the Microsoft account website, in the “family” section. Of course, you must first add your children’s account as your family member, and only then are you able to set limits. Besides being easy to set up, Microsoft’s parental settings also offer you the opportunity of letting your children know when they have little time left, so they can wrap up their activities and not lose any progress in their games.

The same thing is offered by Apple for both Mac computers, from the parental settings section, and for iOS devices such as the iPhone, iPad or iPod from the Screentime section of the device settings.

In fact, this type of basic screen time restriction is also present in Android phones, via Google’s Family Link app, and in every modern-day game console such as the PlayStation 4 or Nintendo Switch.

When your children are browsing the internet or playing video games, especially if they are very young, it is a wise decision to block any adult content they might encounter, seeing as they might be exposed to graphic violence, adult language or even pornography.

You might be thinking that your children don’t browse websites containing that kind of content, but sometimes, the devil is in the advertisements. That being said, one very useful addition to your children’s browser is an ad blocker extension or app of some sort. They are very common nowadays, and they simply block the ads that would normally appear during browsing. Just remember to allow the ads on websites that generally have normal, inoffensive ads so that you don’t take away their main way of generating income.

If you want to block adult media on consoles, such as M-rated video games, every modern video game console also lets parents only allow content up to a certain rating. If you plan on doing this, then it is also extremely advised that you do not allow them to play multiplayer games or interact directly with strangers, as they will often behave inappropriately.

Many mobile apps nowadays feature a “kids mode”, which do most of the work for you: they automatically filter the content on the app so that the kids only see curated content. However, you need to exercise extreme caution when letting your children browse the internet under “kids mode”, as several years ago, the kid’s section on YouTube was full of weird, violent and borderline sexual live-action clips containing popular characters which would normally be innocent, such as Elsa from Frozen or Iron Man. In fact, many of those videos are still up on YouTube today, so it’s very important that you don’t place your entire trust in YouTube’s detection algorithms or staff, and also keep an eye on your kids’ activity.

The internet is, without a doubt, a powerful tool in shaping young minds. However, companies and certain individuals do not pay attention to the effect their mature content may have on children, so they upload it publicly, without any sort of filters. It is up to you, the parent, to protect your child’s web surfing activity, by using the methods in this article.

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