Parenting is never easy. But today’s parents have to grapple with technology in a way that no other generation has ever had to before.

One thing is very clear though; giving your children Internet access without the necessary filtering software is looking for trouble. If you have a pair of eyes and access to the Internet, being exposed to pornography, bullying and inappropriate content is a given.

Whether you like to give your children more freedom or have a tight reign on their internet usage, a good filtering software can be a wonderful parenting tool in developing digitally resilient children.

ACCOUNTABLE CHILDREN ARE SAFE CHILDREN

A group of researchers at Newcastle University observed the littering behavior of students in a university cafeteria. Posters at eye-level displayed pictures of human eyes staring out at the hungry students all around the cafeteria. Strangely, researchers discovered people were twice as likely to clean up after themselves when surrounded by eye-posters.1
This and other studies suggest that even on a subconscious level, we modify our behavior if our brain tells us we’re being watched. Even though we know the eyes on those posters can’t see us, we are wired in such a way to pay attention to them.
When it comes to facing Internet temptations, knowing others are watching us can change the way we behave.

  1. Max Ernest-Jones, et. al., “Effects of eye images on everyday cooperative behavior: A field experiment,” Evolution and Human Behavior 32 (2011).
  2. John Suler, “The Online Disinhibition Effect,” CyberPsychology and Behavior 7 (2004).
  3. Al Cooper. Cybersex: The Dark Side of the Force. (Philadelphia: Brunner-Routledge, 2000).

 

When used right, a good filtering software can help with not only raising accountable children but also assist with developing  good decision-making skills:

Firstly don’t look for a way to spy on your children or an online nanny but rather look for a parenting tool.

We encourage parents to not simply look for a *fail-safe filtering software but to rather utilize a filtering software as a parenting tool.  It is important that the software filters out any inappropriate content as a first line of defense, but it is equally important that the software provides an overview of your child’s online behavior and interests to allow conversation or intervention where necessary.

Once you have decided on a software, do not hide the fact that you are installing a filtering software. Spying on your child does not engender trust. If you install something, especially on your child’s personal devices, make it known to them what you are doing.

We are faced with many choices every single day and the kinds of decisions our children make affect their mental health and wellbeing, their relationships and their success.

Learning to make good decisions helps children become more independent and responsible.

Unfiltered internet access unfortunately robs our children of the chance to develop healthy decision making skills as they get sucked into a world they are not prepared for.

We like to look at an Internet filtering software as a tool to develop strong decision making skills in children and young adults.

How children’s decision-making skills develop

Children learn good decision-making skills gradually and are heavily influenced by the expectations and values they learn from those around them.

This occurs through observing others (particularly their parents and care givers), hearing about and discussing values, and having opportunities to make decisions and experience the consequences.

The key skills children need to develop for decision making are:

identifying when a decision needs to be made

thinking of possible options

evaluating the options, and choosing strategies for making the decision and reviewing how it works.

Learning to consider the situation carefully and weigh up the options before coming to a decision helps children make better decisions. It also helps them to understand and take into account others’ views when making decisions that affect them

A good filtering software …

Allows children to practice making choices

Ensure that the filtering software allows you to set the level of access you want to give your child.  You might feel that your child should have access to the Internet but not to social media and app downloads.  You could agree with your child that once they have shown good decision making and time management skills, they will be allowed the choice of certain app downloads etc.  If they do not show healthy choices their access can be restricted until such time that they are ready.

Facilitates discussion about decisions (good / bad) and support children to use decision-making steps

Filtering software with a robust reporting functionality will give you an overview of your child’s online behavior.  It is like a peek into their thought world and you can see what they are interested in, what questions they have etc. which gives you a fantastic opportunity to use the information as a discussion and opportunity to develop strong decision making skills.

Regardless of whether or not kids visit questionable or objectionable websites, proactive parents can make a habit of talking to their children about what they see and do online. When parents monitor where their children go online, Internet use is no longer a secret habit but something discussed openly at home.

Allows course correction

Knowledge is power and a good filtering software gives you access to information that would generally only come to light when things are already out of control.

We encourage parents to:

Interpret the Report

First, review the Report for information about how a child has been using the Internet. Take note of things like web searches, the most visited websites listed in the Site Report, any blocked websites, and the websites with high ratings.

Investigate their Activity

In the Detailed Browsing Logs, isolate the web addresses with titles to find out specific sites your child may have visited. Take note of any domains that come up frequently (good or bad), any specific pages they visited, or any pages that seem questionable. Visit those websites if you have any questions.

Initiate a Conversation

Remember, tone is (almost) everything. The more common and natural these kinds of conversations are about Internet use in your home, the more natural they will seem in instances where more serious discussion is needed.

So what functionality should you be looking for in a filtering software?

  • Smart Web Filters
  • Multi-device functionality
  • Advanced Facebook Monitoring
  • Games & Apps Blocking
  • Time Controls by Device
  • Location Tracking
  • Panic Button Alerts
  • Calls & SMS monitoring
  • Call Blocking
  • Extended Reporting
  • Priority Support

The iMe movement team searched high and low for the best product and we can highly recommend Qustodio (Voted best parental control app in 2018).

You can learn more about how it works by clicking here