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The Ultimate Guide to Parental Controls

Your child's safety is paramount

Parents know the difficulties in trying to keep kids safe while using the internet: Parental controls are either difficult to access and use or completely non-existent for some sites, games, and media content. Lots of online activities and apps, however, are providing options to help mom and dad get a better grasp on restricting content unsuitable for different ages.

Setting Limits Is a Family Matter

Families often include a mix of children's ages, making it tough to set one type of limit for every child. To help parents set different limits for different children, many software and streaming providers allow parents to set restrictions for different profiles. Others, however, give parents few options.

Netflix, for example, offers four basic maturity levels that allow parents to decide who is or is not a 'little kid' vs. and 'older kid', etc. iPhones, on the other hand, offer a far more comprehensive set of services and apps that give parents wider options. You can set screen time limits, determine which apps are allowed to launch on a child's phone, or set movie and music rating limits.

Because of the broad range of devices in any given home at any given time, we've compiled a list of the most popular sites, gaming platforms, streaming services, and smartphones to help you navigate through the plethora of parental options available.

To use this guide, open the links in the navigation pane. You'll see it's separated into four different sections: Set Boundaries for Gaming, Control Internet & Social Media Activities, Limit Computer & Phone Use, and Manage Movies and Music. Inside each section are several articles filled with tips and hints for you.

A Word About Online Security

As you work with parental controls, keep in mind that the controls can only go so far. Taking other actions in conjunction with those controls can set up an even stronger safety net for your child.

For example, passwords are still extremely important from a security perspective. Set a strong password that your child can't break to help you maintain the controls you've established.

Take precautions to protect your overall home network, too. To prevent others from hacking into your wireless network while your child plays games or does other things online, secure your wireless network properly.

Finally, pay attention to the messages coming at your kids while they play internet games or use social media. Sometimes a simple message can include code words that predators don't expect parents to understand; you can circumvent the issue by closely monitoring who your child friends on Roblox, for example, and by knowing what various acronyms, phrases, and idioms mean.

Focus on Your Child

It's a crazy world out there for all parents these days. We get it. We're parents, too. Use this guide to help your children stay as safe as possible when you're not around and report any suspicious internet activities to authorities when you feel uncomfortable.

Using the internet safely and responsibly during childhood teaches kids how to stay safe and confident as they grow into adults. Don't be afraid to mix up controls and apply the restrictions you feel are most appropriate. After all, you know what's best for your child.