Parental Controls and Content Filtering: A Quick Guide
Smartphones are windows to the world, right there in the palm of your hand. They give you the ability to watch, browse, read, play, chat, and discover, wherever you are. And that barely scratches the surface.
These days, kids are learning to use tech at a younger age. In fact, many infants can use a smart device like an iPhone long before they’re able to write their name. That shows just how quickly the digital world moves.
However, the digital world isn’t always child friendly. While kids become savvier with technology, it’s down to parents, guardians and of course, tech companies, to prioritise their safety online, set limits and help them get the best out of the web.
Whether your child uses your device, or you’ve treated them to their first phone, there are a number of ways to help make their experience a safe one. And there are plenty of apps they’ll love that have neat content controls built right in.
Here’s what you need to know:
Talk to them first!
Before you start setting limits, downloading a parental control app, or applying filters to their phone, have a conversation with them first. Parental control apps are there to make your child’s smartphone experience a lot safer – they aren’t there for spying purposes. Be honest with them about the need to prevent online threats and inappropriate content, and the chances are they’ll be much more onboard with the idea!
Take control of app purchases
When you first open your phone’s app store, download virtually everything you like without any restrictions. However, many apps on the market are aimed at adults only, or there might be games designed for teens over a certain age, social media platforms made for older people – the list goes on.
So, restricting the app store is an important place to start. Not only that, but it’s easy no matter if they have an iPhone or Android phone.
For Android phones, simply head to the Play Store > Tap Menu > Settings > Parental controls. Toggle parental controls ‘on’ and add a PIN to prevent them adjusting the settings. You can select the type of content you want to filter, and you can also set an authentication requirement for app purchases. That means they’ll need to enter a PIN or password to authorise downloads.
If it’s an iPhone they’re using, you can find Parental Controls within the main settings. Head to Content & Privacy Restrictions, and you’ll see that you can toggle permission to purchase apps or make in-app purchases.
Look out for these apps!
Did you know you that there are certain streaming apps out there that offer parental controls built in? With services like Netflix, Spotify and Prime Video, you don’t need to fully block the app to keep the content they see age appropriate.
Have they got their own user profile on your Netflix account? Try adding a PIN to your profile to make sure they don’t see the full unrestricted content library. Both Netflix and Prime let you limit content according to the film or show’s age restriction, while Spotify can filter any music or content with explicit lyrics.
And if you’ve got a Disney Plus account, we don’t blame you. It’s got incredible movies, epic Marvel adventures and every Simpsons episode – but it’s not all U-rated. When setting up your child’s Disney Plus profile on their phone, make sure you toggle Kids Profile to ‘on’. That’ll filter out any PG, PG13 and other restricted content from their menu.
Keep an eye on screen time
It’s not just what they’re doing on their phone, it’s how much time they spend. Too much time spent on phones isn’t healthy for anyone, particularly just before bed. So, it’s increasingly important to set boundaries from an early age.
If they’ve got an Android, download Google Family Link on your phone. This trusty app offers is pretty much a parental control suite. Everything from screen time limits to content restriction can be found here. If you’re worried, they’re staying up late watching shows or playing games, you can remotely lock their phone to help them get to sleep at a good time.
It also integrates with their Google Play Store app, so you receive a notification to approve or reject any app purchases or download requests. And you can always view activity to help them make healthy decisions with how they use their phone.
For iPhones, you can easily set screen limits within their phone’s settings. Just look for Parental Controls in Settings and tap on Downtime. From here, you can set regular downtime like 10 pm – 7 am Monday to Friday, and a different limit on weekends.
Your iD Mobile plan parental controls:
Adult content filtering:
Login to Self-care and navigate to “My Services” which will either be positioned on the left hand-side navigation bar if you’re using My Account online (the browser application) or will be located on the bottom navigation bar of the App.
Scroll down to “Adult Content Filtering” and switch the toggle to ON.
Press “confirm” on the confirmation pop-up.
It should take no more than a few minutes to switch on but if the toggle still says pending then simply navigate away from the page and then return to see if it’s updated.
What do you think is the best way to help kids engage with devices healthily? Is there a parental control app you think helps them keep a good balance? Let us know below.