Different strokes, for different folks

Children on computer

Parenting is hard. And no two families do it the same. Nowhere is this more obvious than in screen time limits and internet usage. Some kids spend all day gaming online, while others are only allowed to go online for homework. Although each family has differing limits, there’s strong evidence that many want help in applying them.

With the uncertainty surrounding of children going back to school or continuing in-home learning, it is timely to talk about different approaches to manage kids time on screens.

In our recent international consumer survey, we saw that 36% of respondents were worried about the amount of time children spent online. Globally, 63% of respondents said they’d like software to help them more effectively monitor their home network.

Giving parents the tools that work for them

How can Internet Service Providers (ISPs) help parents meet this balancing need when every family has a different approach to digital parenting?

In our conversations with ISPs, we find parents in some markets want to proactively block access to entire genres of site – for example social media – to limit the temptation of  kids checking their screens during “school time”.  In other markets there’s a much more relaxed approach, and parents are wary of being labelled as control freaks or snooping into their children’s browsing history.   And yet in other countries, parents take the approach that as children get older, they should learn responsibility and be offered more trust.

When is it an invasion of privacy, or good parenting, to keep tabs on your child’s domain-level browsing history?   Can there be a fine balance between ”helicopter” and “indulgent” parenting?

Keep kids safe, keep it simple

The answer to the question above lies in tools that are flexible enough to assist all kinds of families. The problem with flexible solutions is they can become too difficult to set up.  If a solution takes hours to configure, it won’t get used at all.

Trusted Home resolves that issue.  It provides parents with a simple and intuitive app that puts the parent in control.  It gives parents the range and depth of controls required by those parents that see the need meticulously manage online behavior; and it also allows parents to provide more freedom as the child matures, understands online risks, and earns the trust of their parents.

Don’t just block, get smart

Parental control filters on Trusted Home app

Our Trusted Home solution features auto-safe settings on You-Tube and search engine content.  These filters allow you to block certain categories of websites, including adult content, malicious sites, and ads.  But my “go-to” features are setting schedules and setting daily limits.  With these features, I can not only block access during certain times of the “school” day, mirroring the lunch and recess breaks given, but I can also limit their screen time after school to ensure they are not distracted from completing their homework.

With these features in mind, perhaps we should be able to automatically disable whole genres of online distractions – like gaming and social media sites – during a specified homework period while still allowing access to other online educational services they may need?  Food for thought.

Here in The Netherlands, children are starting to go back to school.  However, Coronavirus-related school shutdowns are a very fresh memory and could quickly become the norm again if we experience a second wave.  So I keep my Trusted Home app handy to keep my kids’ screen time on TikTok in check and to steer them away from sites distracting them from their online learning as needed.

Stay tuned for ideas how to get the most out of Trusted Home and parental control innovations in the coming months.

Ronald Peters | Product Manager, Trusted Home