Our favourite parental monitoring tools to safeguard our children online
Here at Cyberlite, we often get asked whether we should allow our kids to go online given the number of threats and predators that are out there. We don’t recommend shutting your child off completely from technology as there are many wonderful, creative, and educational content created for children and parents alike that you can really benefit from (like this article!).
Instead, parents should think about installing some of these cyber safety tools in your child’s phone as soon as they get their first smart device. These tools can monitor and track a child’s online behaviour, and block dangerous sites from appearing in front of them.
Image source: SafeToNet.com
1. SafeToNet Keyboard
SafeToNet’s keyboard is one of the most sophisticated parental monitoring tools in this list. It is an AI-powered keyboard that is installed into a child’s device, and monitors the messages your child sends out to the world. The keyboard protects children by looking out for risky messages that may indicate cyberbullying, dark thoughts, and sexual grooming, and sends alerts to parents in real-time. It also gives the user advice on cyber safety and tips on recalibrating when their mental wellbeing is in distress. For parents, the tool gives powerful insights to your child’s online behaviours while respecting their privacy, as you’re not able to see the specific messages they’re sending out. We highly recommend this tool for its intelligent and empathetic approach towards cyber safety for children.
Price: Free to download, subscription plans vary by country
Website: https://safetonet.com/features/ Available for: iOS and Android
Image source: bark.us
Bark is a comprehensive parental control app that monitors 30+ of the most popular apps and social media platforms, including text messaging and email. They detect signs of digital dangers and “barks” when there’s something you need to be alerted about through texts and emails. It also provides screen time management and web filtering tools for your children’s devices. They offer two paid plans: Bark Jr and Bark Premium. Bark Jr is meant for younger users who are using devices but not yet on social media - this plan can help you set screen times, filter appropriate websites, and track their device locations. Bark Premium is for device independent users who need their messages monitored - this plan will alert you to issues of cyberbullying, online predators, suicide ideation, and more.
Price: Free trial available, plans start at USD $5/month for Bark Jr, and USD $14/month for Bark Premium
Website: https://www.bark.us/ Available for: iOS and Android
Image source: Qustodio.com
3. Qustodio Qustodio is a powerful monitoring tool for parents to keep track of their children’s online activities with a number of different functionalities. It can manage and limit screen time, blocks out inappropriate websites and content, and limit games and apps that are also deemed inappropriate. Moreover, Qustodio allows you to monitor all social media activities and summarises it in a weekly or daily report for you so you know how long your child has spent on an app and if they’ve uploaded photos or left comments. On Android phones, the app can also monitor and block calls your child is making.
Price: Free to download, premium upgrades start at $54.95/year for small families
Available for: Windows, Mac OS X, Android, iOS, Chromebook and Kindle
Image source: families.google.com/familylink/
4. Google’s Family Link
Family Link is a Google parenting tool that monitors and controls your child’s online activities such as screen time and downloads, and allows you to lock their devices when screen time is over. Family Link doesn’t monitor specific messages or content your child sends or posts. The tool pushes your child towards good content recommended by teachers. You can also track their location through the device and find your child if they’re not in your sight.
Price: Free to download
Available for: iOS and Android
What else can you do to safeguard your child on the internet?
Besides installing these tools, we also recommend doing the following to ensure your child has a safe and enjoyable time growing up with technology.
Set proper parental controls on all the games and apps they interact with
Enter your child's real age when using apps and websites. This way, inappropriate content is more likely to be restricted on certain sites.
If your child asks to download an app all the other kids are using but you're not sure about, you should use the app and explore it first to ensure that it's safe. Just because their peers use the app doesn't mean the other families have done their due diligence to ensure it's an appropriate app.
Educate your child on cyber safety and awareness! This is the most important tool you can employ to truly safeguard your child from cyber threats.