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Parental Controls for Smartphones



So you have decided to get your children smartphones and now the next thing to consider is – how do you control their usage?

Smartphones are like mobile computers and it is no doubt more difficult to control your kids’ smartphone usage since they can use it away from your watchful eyes. Here is how you can exercise control over your kids’ smartphone use.

 

  1. Use prepaid cards
    Instead of signing your kids up for mobile phone plans that require you to pay a monthly subscription fee, consider buying them prepaid cards instead. Top up a fixed amount every month – no more, no less.

    This will give you more control over the amount of time your children spend talking on their phones, the number of text messages they send as well as the amount of data they use each month.

    Presently, there are also prepaid cards that offer only data services. Teens are now using data messaging services over SMSes. Parents have to watch out how much data they buy for their children.

    Other than your home wireless broadband service, do take note though that free Wifi access at certain public places such as restaurants and cafes can bypass prepaid cards.
     
  2. “You pay the balance!”
    Regardless of prepaid card or a postpaid mobile plan, stay firm about the amount of money you are willing to pay for their smartphone usage. If you and your children have agreed that you will only top up $30 on the prepaid card each month, keep to that amount.

    Should they want to use more than $30 worth of mobile phone services, they will have to fork out the balance by themselves. This will encourage them to constantly keep track of their own smartphone usage and ensure that they do not exceed the agreed amount.
     
  3. Sign Up for Internet Filtering Service
    All mobile phone operators in Singapore provide an internet filtering service that you can subscribe to for a monthly fee. Without downloading any additional applications, you can protect your children from accessing undesirable websites and content on their smartphones.

    The service also allows you to customise the categories of content you want to block and manage your children’s internet access on their smartphones remotely.
     
  4. Adjust Phone Settings
    If you didn’t know, some smartphones do in fact have features that enable you to set parental controls on your children’s smartphones.

    In the case of an iPhone, you can enable restrictions to prevent your children from accessing specific applications and features, specific content type and more. A passcode will be required to enable and disable the restrictions, so you don’t have to worry about your kids making any changes without your knowledge.

    If you have yet to purchase a smartphone for your children, you should consider a phone that has these features.
     
  5. Use Parental Control Apps
    There are currently many parental control apps out in the market that allow you to monitor and control what your children are doing on their smartphones and all forms of technological devices.

    Besides internet filtering, these applications also let you keep an eye on their calls and text messages, set the time limits for their screen time, monitor the applications they are using and many more. Popular parental control applications you can consider include Mobicip and Screentime Labs.


    Mobicip is one of the more popular parental control software available. It allows parents to monitor their children’s device usage across various electronic platforms, app downloads, view browsing history, set time limits and allows customized filter settings. Parents are connected to their children’s internet use through updates on their email1. Find out more Mobicip 


    Screentime Labs is another parental control software available. It allows parents to set time limits, school and bedtime restrictions, ability to pause your child’s device usage, and create fun check list to motivate your child to complete their tasks. Parents are able to get updates of daily usage2. Find out more about Screentime Labs 
     

Parental controls as depicted above are best use for children and young teens. As children grow older, they would be asking for more freedom. It is less useful to engage the help of such monitoring apps to manage your children’s usage. It would be good to discuss and work with your children to help them understand the importance of keeping you involved in their online usage.

Parents are to note that such parental controls do not substitute your position as a parent. Parents do have to provide time to explain and to process what their children has done on the internet. Parents do have to maintain their relationship with their children and constantly keep in touch with the information their children get online.

Constantly remind your kids that owning a smartphone is a privilege and not a right. Since you’re the one who paid for the phone and you’re footing their phone bills, they need to know that you have the right to monitor and control whatever they are doing on their smartphones.

As long as they obey the rules that both of you have agreed upon, they will continue to enjoy this privilege you have given them.

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