July 24, 2024


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Why You Need Parental Control Software, and How to Get Your Kids Onboard

The holidays are here, which means children are home every day during their break from school. For many kids and teens, that means spending the majority of time in their rooms, chatting with friends and possibly strangers on their phones, computers, or gaming consoles. Yep, I said strangers. Is your parental radar going off yet? If so, maybe it’s time to install some parental control software on your kids’ devices—with their cooperation.

Talk to Your Kids

Before anything else, talk to your kids. Explain that not everyone online has their best interests in mind, and there’s a lot of harmful content out there. Whether it comes in the form of blatant disinformation or explicit videos and photos, there’s a lot of stuff online that kids just shouldn’t see. Also, as tech addiction continues to rise, kids need to know when to step away from apps and games to spend time with people IRL. Starting with some level of trust in your interactions with your kids may help them understand why you’re installing parental control software.

Parental control software and spyware are not the same. Respect your teen’s right to privacy by avoiding spyware and instead letting them know what kind of software you are installing, what information it gives you, and why. The best parental control apps let your child know about parental monitoring, so there will be transparency either way. Some apps also allow the child to ask your permission to view some online content or request more screen time playing games or watching videos. Apps that work with your connected child may encourage them to follow your rules and dissuade them from figuring out how to uninstall the software on their devices.

Look for parental control programs that work for all your kids’ devices on the home network. If everyone in the family is an  Apple user, the free ScreenTime app for iOS, iPadOS, and macOS is a one-stop shop for parental control. Google and Microsoft also offer free and effective parental control solutions, too.

You know your kids better than anyone else. If you think they need heavy-handed supervision online (and offline), we have suggestions for plenty of parental control solutions that fit a variety of needs. Many options have content filters, scheduling capabilities, and even geofencing so you can keep track of where your kids go outside of the home or school. 

If your child or teen needs some social media supervision, consider that many parental control programs only monitor Facebook or have given up monitoring the social sites. You may need to keep an eye on those social media interactions manually by creating an account yourself and keeping up with your kids’ interactions.

Check out PCMag’s reviews of parental control solutions. Many offer free trials, so you can find one that fits your parenting style and complements your child’s personality. 

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Earlier this month, Apple released a free app to help Android users find AirTags that may be used to track their location. The company published the Tracker Detect app on the Google Play Store. The app detects rogue AirTags and other tracking devices that can be used with Apple’s Find My network that have been separated from their original owners. iPhone users automatically receive alerts if an AirTag separated from its owner is nearby. 

Keep in mind, you need to manually launch the app’s scanning function each time you want to check your surroundings and make sure you aren’t being tracked. If the app discovers a tracking device, you can make the device sound an alarm, revealing the AirTag. 

The app comes along after recent news reports of car thieves using AirTags to track and steal vehicles. There’s also the matter of tech-assisted abuse, in which stalkers use AirTags to follow their victims. 

To learn more about this topic, see our guide to finding and disabling tracking devices.

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