Parents Keeping Tabs On Kids

This is from the WSJ, for American families.

The settings sections of common household Apple and Amazon devices, along with those that run Google’s Android and Chromebook software, allow parents to do everything from block explicit content to set a fixed gadget bedtime—all without paying extra or ceding privacy to an outside service.

This week, with the expected rollout of Apple’s iOS 13, parents will more easily be able to set time limits on individual iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch apps. Later this fall, Apple will launch its most compelling upgrade: the ability to manage children’s contacts and control who they can communicate with.

Before you go too crazy turning on controls, proceed with a megabit of caution. Family media experts advise parents to begin with more stringent controls when children first get internet-connected devices, then relax them as kids demonstrate maturity.

“We call them digital on-ramps. When your child is really young, talk to them about everything they do with a device. When you snap a photo, talk about whether you’re sharing it with Grandma, so it becomes embedded in their everyday practice of using devices,” said Diana Graber, author of “Raising Humans in a Digital World: Helping Kids Build a Healthy Relationship with Technology.”

It’s much harder, she said, to impose controls once kids have tasted freedom.

Researchers at the University of Central Florida last year found that too much parental control fosters distrust and encourages kids to do the very things digital controls were designed to prevent.

What these settings won’t do is tell you what your kids are seeing or posting online. That is where third-party services like Bark, which charge fees to monitor kids’ online activities, come into play.

Also, remember that tech companies tend to treat teens as adults, because of a decades-old online privacy law, so managing their activities becomes harder. And of course, teens are notorious for finding workarounds to even the most sophisticated parental controls. Just as previous generations got around curfew by sneaking out of basement windows late at night, today’s digital natives can venture out online by disabling settings, creating fake social media accounts and smuggling burner phones.

I wonder how the parental settings on devices sold in China are different.