The Pros and Cons of Parental Controls

10 min read by Bogdi

published un an în urmă, updated o lună în urmă

As the pace of technological advancement accelerates, the job of parents gets harder. Your child has more communication options than any other generation in history. No one person can track them all. Because of this, you may want a simple solution to keep your kid safe. Parental controls are one option, but are they worth the hassle?

Parental controls can help you moderate what your child does online but have their advantages and disadvantages:

Pros Cons
Location tracking High costs
Block inappropriate content Easy for kids to circumvent
Helps identify online predators Can contain malicious software
Monitor social activities Could be fake
Can strengthen relationship with your child Can ruin your relationship with your child
Greater peace of mind Not a substitute for parenting
A greater understanding of apps and devices There are better ways to protect your child

While parental controls have their place, they are not silver bullets. They are just tools. They work in some situations, but not in others. To truly keep your child safe, you need to do more than install an app. By reading further, you will learn what you can do to ensure your child only sees what you want him or her to see.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Parental Controls

Parenting is never easy. Kids will do anything they can to satisfy their curiosity, and the rapid pace of technology gives them more options every day. Parents constantly struggle to protect their children from the dangers of the internet and digital technology, ending up overwhelmed. At times, it may feel like there is nothing you can do to keep your kids safe.

Fortunately, the same technology causing the issues also offers a solution: parental controls. Either as apps or built-in device functionality, parental controls offer a means to regulate and control how your child uses technology. They place a barrier between your kid and the inappropriate content that can harm their mental health and behavior.

You Want to Keep Your Kids Safe. Your Kid Wants Privacy

Parental controls provide an adequate solution for both kids and their parents. Children want to use the internet and have private conversations with their friends without restrictions. They want to feel like adults. However, we know there are places online that are not safe for children. One wrong click can expose your child to:

  • Cyberbullying
  • Vulgarity
  • Unsavory characters

Therefore, parents want a way to monitor their kids' online activities. Parental controls provide that monitoring in a non-intrusive way. These apps let your children know that you trust them but still give you a way to check in on them as needed.

However, parental control apps have their downsides. For one, you are spying on your child by using them despite whatever you may call it. Kids also know how to circumvent many of them as well. You need to find a balance between them, but to do that, you must understand the limitations and benefits of parental controls.

The Advantages of Using Parental Controls

Parental controls have one function, and they do that function well. They keep your child away from people and content you deem harmful such as sexting, bullying, and pornography. They give you a simple way to monitor your child's activities in the toxic digital world of the internet. A great example of such an app is EyeZy. It helps you protect your kids online and has an AI feature that alerts you of possible dangers.

They also let you restrict what types of apps and features your child can use. Plus, you gain insights into your child's life while giving them a chance to learn the value of personal liberty and self-control.

Know Your Child's Location

Knowing your child's whereabouts is one of the greatest fears a parent can have. Luckily, many parental control apps come with a location tracker to let you know where your kid likes to roam. You can even have the information sent to your phone so that you can track down your child with or without a desktop control panel.

Block Inappropriate Content

When most people think about parental controls, they most likely think about blocking inappropriate content. One of the oldest benefits is that content censoring helps you regulate what your child sees and hears while online. That way, your child remains protected from content you find inappropriate until you feel like he or she can handle it.

Find Online Predators

The internet is home to more than just inappropriate content. Predators of all types lurk around even social media sites and discussion boards, waiting for their next child victim to take their bait. Parental controls help protect your child from these individuals by giving a complete list of your child's contacts. You can also read their message history, letting you know their conversation as well as when and how they interacted.

Monitor Social Media Activities

Social media lets your child find news and information and make new friends, but it is also a platform for cyberbullying and predators. Parental controls let you keep an eye out for these bad influences while encouraging your kid's self-confidence.

Increase Familiarity with Apps and Devices

Out of all the pros of parental controls, you may not realize how much they help you understand the technologies involved. You have your phones, apps, and internet activities but probably never fully understood how they functioned.

By taking control of your child's devices, you gain that greater understanding. You will also know what new apps kids use these days so you can help your child comfortably navigate them.

Strengthen Your Relationship with Your Child

Parental controls can also improve the relationship you have with your child. Through the controls, your child shows how trustworthy he or she is by respectfully and responsibly following your rules and guidelines. Your child may even realize that you have their best interests at heart, leading to better self-control and awareness.

Greater Peace of Mind

Lastly, parental controls leave you with greater peace of mind knowing that your kids are safe when using their phones. The extra control satisfies your desire to protect your children from harm while giving you and your children more confidence about their wellbeing.

Disadvantage and Limitations of Parental Controls

The many pros of using parental controls to monitor your child's activities online are simple. They are easy to understand, use, and integrate into your life. However, those significant advantages come with numerous downsides. These downsides can even ruin the benefits, making your life worse instead of better.

Parental Controls are Expensive

While you have many options when choosing a parental control app, prepare to spend a lot of money if you want more than a basic content filter. You want these apps to protect your child, and many app developers know you will pay a premium for them. As such, you may not have the budget for them, even with the occasional free trial.

Broken Parent-Child Relationships

You may want parental controls to protect and strengthen your relationship with your child, but you may do the opposite if you do use them. Despite what you may say to yourself, using these apps means that you are spying on your child and therefore betraying his or her trust in you. Your kid may grow unhappy and start questioning your judgment, creating emotional and mental strain. By using these apps, you may even reduce your child's self-confidence.

Kids Can Easily Circumvent Parental Controls

Despite what the app developers may claim, parental controls are not foolproof. You may think you can secretly set them up, but kids are aware of them and know how to get around them. Your child can use different apps, proxies, and other means to circumvent your controls without you knowing. Most apps are simple to uninstall too. The problem gets worse if your child is brilliant and knows his or her way around technology.

Parental Controls are not Parenting

Parental controls give you tools to monitor and protect your child, but that is all they are. While they have their function, they are not a substitute for being a parent. Unfortunately, many parents fall into this trap due to how easy they are to use. However, doing so will rob you and your child of valuable moments for bonding.

Malicious Software

While you bought your parental control app to protect your child, you might get something else instead. Parental control software is a popular method for injecting viruses, trojans, and other malicious software onto your computers and phones. You may lose valuable data or worse. Your child may quickly remove these apps and their threats, but you may not want to take the chance.

Fake Parental Control Software

Finally, some parental control apps are just placebos. While they are free of any malicious code, these apps do nothing except look pretty. Many of these fake apps will even make you pay for something you do already.

Should Parents Control Their Children's Phone?

Parenting is never easy, and setting guidelines is one of the more essential aspects of it. You always want your child to be safe, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, the means of achieving that safety has a significant effect as well.

As we mentioned several times already, by using parental controls, you are spying on your children while revealing how much you do not trust them. Sure, these apps will protect your child from the unadulterated cruel world of the internet, but they can do more harm than good if you are not careful.

Parental Controls Have Their Place

That does not mean parental controls are not helpful. Properly configured, these apps will ensure your child only faces what you believe he or she can handle without issue. In doing so, they give you the peace of mind that your child will not be over-exposed to harmful content and thoughts.

However, the downsides add up. No solution is 100 percent effective. Kids can access inappropriate materials without using phones or a computer. Blocking:

  • Text messages
  • Unauthorized calls
  • Videos

Will only get you so far. Parental controls are just tools. They will never fully replace real parenting. Instead, they are best used in conjunction with parenting.

Unfortunately, many parents abuse the power parental controls provide them. They use these apps as nannies, believing they can leave their kids alone with them while they do other things. However, this abuse keeps you from forming healthy bonds with your children.

In return, children rebel and seek the love they need from elsewhere, knowing that they cannot trust their parents for it. This behavior just reinforces the situation, creating the endless spiral of a hostile relationship.

Kids Need Parents, Not Apps

Most kids would live inside the internet if they could. They meet and make new friends online. They do their homework online. They are very digital people, but they are still kids with kid needs. Blocking them from illicit content when appropriate is fine, but your children need you more than the app on their phones.

Therefore, you should take the time to be active in your children's lives. Active parenting means teaching your kids right from wrong and the places they should avoid. You also want to ensure they understand why they should not engage in those activities as well.

That means letting your children know when you are installing parental control or monitoring apps on their phones and why it is in their best interest. Be open about everything, even if they rebel against you.

Talk to Your Kids About Basic Internet Safety

Kids love to explore and test their boundaries. They will make mistakes and stumble. You can try to fence them in and prevent them from doing these things in some vain attempt to keep them safe, but kids need these things to learn and grow. As such, they may not be prepared for them later in life.

Instead of placing your kids in a box, you can give them a little freedom with frequent talks about what they do and like to do. Sometimes, all kids need is some advice. They just need you to spend some time with them going over the dangers of the internet and what to do when they encounter cyberbullies and other threats. You can also talk about websites they like to visit and which ones you want them to avoid, and why.

The best thing you can do for your children is to prepare them for when you can no longer monitor them for whatever reason. Teaching your kids basic internet safety will go a long way towards that goal, ensuring that they will be ready for when that time comes.

Monitor Only as Needed

Monitoring and parental controls are excellent for younger kids. Young kids lack the self-awareness to know when they are vulnerable, making them easy targets. During their critical developmental years, you will want to implement some form of parental control along with the usual parenting. You can use any monitoring tool you seem fit to keep your child safe until they reach the right age.

Because every child develops differently, you should modify your parental control solution to match your child's needs. If you need a phone tracker to give you the peace of mind you need, you should do it. If you need to track emails, make sure you have that feature. You may want to talk to your child's school counselor for advice to ensure that you stay informed about your child's activities.

However, you should ease off from the monitoring as your kids grow older. You must turn off or remove the controls that they no longer need to grow the trust between you and them. Let them know that you will turn them back on if they mess up and what they must do to earn back your trust to remove them. You want to be vigilant but always give your children the benefit of the doubt.

Do Not Underestimate the Power of an Involved Parent

Parenting is never easy, but at some point, you must let your child go. You may hope that they will later rather than sooner, but it will come. The more you can be in your kids' life now, the better. You want to be there for your kids, both physically and spiritually. School can only teach your kids so much, and your kids need you to fill in the rest.

If you teach your kids how to be safe and walk them through every step, they will remember your word and love whenever and wherever they are. They would run to you during uncertain times and notify you about weird conversations they have and with whom.

In the end, you will realize that you never needed that many parental controls over your child. You only need the bare minimum to enforce downtime, content restrictions, and scheduled family events. The rest comes down to just being a parent, which is the best control you have over your child.

Conclusion

Parental controls provide an easy way to monitor and moderate your kids' digital activities in an easy-to-use application. They let you know everything about your children, including who they hang out with, what they like to do and see, and who influences them. However, these apps are not silver bullets and have significant limitations that can adversely affect how children develop. In many cases, the best advice is to forgo the controls and just be a parent.

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