Whether it’s for education, the safety of being able to reach a parent or for another reason many children now own and use a device. It’s why we are often asked how to put parental controls on devices.

What are some of the online safety challenges young people face?

Some of the online safety challenges young people experience include:

  • Sexting
  • Online bullying
  • Wasting time
  • Cost issues
  • Location based concerns where devices automatically share a child’s current location on social media sites or apps and perhaps with friends they don’t know that well.

It’s why we are sometimes asked by parents and caregivers how they can filter, lock down or just generally control or monitor their chid’s cellphone to do any of the following:

  • prevent the use of the camera
  • block calls or texts from certain people
  • set strict usage limits or times for internet access
  • prevent file sharing over Bluetooth or the installation of downloaded apps

What is Netsafe’s advice about parental controls?

No filtering software is 100% efficient in preventing access to different content. There will always be weaknesses in systems and some people will try to circumvent the software.

We encourage adults to have open conversations with young people about the responsibility that goes along with ownership of a connected device. Some of the issues that should be discussed include:

  • What to do if they are being bullied
  • Basic safety such as friending and communicating with people you don’t know
  • Not sharing information that should be kept confidential or may be used to bully or embarass you later on (in the case of sexting photos, drunken pics or threatening or abusive texts)
  • Explaining to your child why you have decided to install monitoring software or parental controls

Parental control software for mobiles, smartphones and tablets

Both Google’s Android mobile operating system and Apple’s iOS come with parental control ‘restriction’ settings that can limit what users can do, install, browse and access.

We have also listed below a small selection of apps or software for various devices but we have not tested them. We recommend you read the reviews and evaluate a free trial before purchasing.

Some software suites also offer monitoring and logging of websites and app usage. We strongly encourage parents discuss this with their children before they install it to build a sense of trust.

Android devices

With Android you can filter the Play Store to only show apps that are appropriate for children and restrict costly in-app purchases. You can also set up user accounts with restricted permissions that can only access certain apps on the device. Some handset manufacturers also have additional settings or modes/apps that help with filtering.

There are also many apps in the Android marketplace to filter adult content and even monitor calls, texts and web activity.

ScreenTime
Set time restrictions and time limits, block apps and get reports via the paid service

Apple iOS – iPhone, iPod Touch

Apple’s Restrictions settings can be used to prevent purchasing on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and prevent the Safari browser, Siri assistant or other apps from being used.

The iOS operating system can also control which apps have access to your private information and the use of GPS based Location Services.

Multiple operating systems

Intel Security Safe Family
Free for 6 months – grant and block access with time limits and age-based rules

Norton Family
Parental control software for multiple devices, free for 30 days