Yes, I hyper-control my child's electronics. No, I won't apologize for it. I think it's necessary. I think it's vital. I think it's a must. Okay, I feel like I'm just repeating myself. I'm pretty sure you get the point by now. I believe that it's imperative that we, as parents, exercise our duty and our responsibility to monitor our children online for their own protection.
How? Why? What? They let you do that? Is that possible? WHAT?
That's often the response I get from parents. I'm quite surprised how little parents know about monitoring their child's electronics. Many want to, but just don't know how. Or they think they have the electronics monitored but don't realize that there are holes in their monitoring. Those who have young kids remember themselves as teens and think...um...yeah, right. Sure your teens turn their iPods in every night. Uh. Huh. (Side Note: I don't understand that attitude. They're my children and they live under my roof. If I say to turn it in, they'll turn it in or they won't have it. It's that simple. But that's a horse for another blog.)
Now I'm no expert nor do I play one on TV, but I have learned a few things along the way. Our kids have a simple, shared, ancient flip-phone and iPod touches. To grossly simplify the monitoring, each of those has contact and parental restrictions.
What do those restrictions mean?
On the phone, "Contact restrictions" means that the kids cannot add contacts on their own. Why is that important? On the phone, it means that we are the ones who determine who they can talk and text with. If we don't add that contact info and allow it, then they cannot talk or text with that person. We keep it this way because there is absolutely no way for us to monitor texts on this phone. We're not comfortable with that. As such, they are only able to text with us and emergency contact adults. On the iPod, it's the same, except that we also don't allow adding of emails as that's how they contact via Apple messenger. That's one of those holes that many people miss.
That's about all there is to the flip phone. Like I said, it's an ancient, basic, "dumb" flip phone.
The other restrictions on the iPod (or an iPhone or iPad) are under the "General" tab in the "Settings" section. From there, scroll down to "Restrictions". Once in there, you can disallow Safari, Facetime, Installing Apps, Siri, explicit language, & in-app purchases. You can also set the ratings for apps that you do allow your children do download. You can also set the i-device so that your children cannot add an e-mail account, contacts, or allow other apps (such as Facebook, Twitter, etc) to access the photos on their camera. If you want to allow one of those accounts, you can set up the one they will have and then "don't allow changes" so that they cannot add anymore. (Or in the case of contacts, add the ones they are allowed to have and then set it so that they cannot add anymore.)
Again, for us...so little can be monitored that we don't allow texting, calling (or calling apps), access to the app store, Safari, etc. We'd just rather not take a chance.
Of course, I've only covered mobile devices here...and even then, only a small segment of them. The basics are this...if you care to monitor your kids online, then look for the restrictions under the "settings" section of your device.
So, yes, I'm THAT mom. I'm the mom who won't let her kids freely text. I'm the mom who won't let her kids "Facetime". I'm the mom who places restrictions on her kids and limits what they see and do online and the people with whom they can communicate on their phone and iPods. Yup. That's me.
And I'm okay with that.