“Parental Controls” is a terrible term. Children and young people do not want to be “controlled” nor do parents want to control them…they simply want to ensure that their children are safeguarded. Very young people will need a more pro-active approach until they gain maturity and understanding, but children aged 11 and above often quickly become extremely tech savvy and demand privacy and respect. Safeguarding within these parameters is the ideal.
The “parental control” market does not fulfil this brief. Current products and apps share the content of children’s messages with their parents – thus abusing their trust and quite possibly breaking the law. Remember what it was like when your Mum read your diary? This is exactly the same. Parental controls also shut down apps at the parent’s ad-hoc request or disable the entire device. Typically, they are inadvertently used as “weapons”. Naturally children and young people fight against their usage, and the children themselves become the biggest barrier to the effectiveness of these tools because disabling their devices makes them cut off from their friendship groups and support networks.
SafeToNet offers parents a different approach that we call “Informed Safeguarding”. Informed Safeguarding informs and educated parents of risks such as age-related app risks. For example, Snap Chat’s minimum age is 13, and anyone under that age should therefore not be using that app, or trending challenges like “neknominate” on Facebook.