The use of parental controls and parental intelligence systems (such as uKnowKids) to monitor your child’s online activity is perhaps the most effective tool to ensure mobile and Internet safety for your child.
The Pew Research Study “Teens, kindness and cruelty on social network sites” (November 2011) notes that about one third of parents use parental controls on their teens’ mobile phone.
Companies have responded to parent and policy maker’s requests for these controls because increasingly sophisticated mobile smart phones now incorporate easy internet access and information-sharing in the form of text, photos, or videos. Impulsive teens are in danger of sharing things they may regret for a lifetime.
The study notes that 34% of parents report they use parental controls to monitor or restrict mobile phone use. In this same survey question 19% of teens report that their parents use these tools. The 15% difference between the parents and teens reporting the use of parental controls may represent teens who think their parents do not use these tools—when in actuality they do.
Also noted in the study is the fact that only 17% of all parents use parental controls for both the Internet and their child’s cell phone, and 41% do not use any parental controls at all.
The majority of the parents who do not use parental controls report that they feel such controls are unnecessary, either because of rules already in place, or because they trust their child to be safe.
But is it really a matter of “trusting” your child? Research using brain scans over time show that children’s brains become fully developed at age 25. Prior to full brain development there are deficits in the areas of rational thinking, decision making, use of appropriate judgment and the ability to think clearly about long-term outcomes that stem from behaviors.
Using parental controls and parental intelligence systems thus appears to be a matter of responsible parenting as opposed to believing in your child. Protecting your kid(s) from predators is number one in most parents’ minds, but you also need to protect them from themselves.
Tim Woda is a passionate advocate for protecting children from today’s scariest digital dangers – cyberbullying, sexting and online predators. He is the co-founder of uKnow.com, developers of uKnowKids.