Recently I have found myself intrigued by the number of teenagers who have their own smartphone. I have noticed that conversations are no longer taking place at the bus stop or around the family dinner table, but is being replaced by children scrolling through their latest hand held device.
In a 2015 study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 73% of teenagers have access to a smartphone. Of those teens, 94% report to go online daily. Facebook is the most frequently used social media site among teenagers, though 71% of teens report using more than one social media outlet.
Many parents provide these devices for convenience or for peace of mind while their teen participates in sports, after school activities, or while hanging out at the mall with their friends. All of that aside, are parents staying alert to the dangers that are lurking on those small screens?
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Never Too Young
According to The Youth Pornography Addiction Center, 93% of boys and 62% of girls are exposed to internet pornography before the age of 18. The average age for exposure to internet pornography is 11.
Startling as it may seem, 67% of children admit that they clear their internet browser history in an attempt to hide their online activity.
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As stated by Dr. Tim Jennings in the Conquer Series,
“Pornography is a problem at any dose, and it doesn’t need to be utilized at any dose. It’s like I wouldn’t tell people: “Well, as long as you’re not addicted to cocaine, cocaine is fine.” No, it’s not!”
As the wife of a former porn addict, I know how quickly porn usage can damage oneself and their relationships with others. Now as the mom of three amazing kids, I want to remain proactive as my children move into each new stage of technology. Below are four different family based apps which can help you to protect your children from the dangers found on the internet.
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Bark is the best comprehensive parental control app that partners with parents and schools to help monitor the online activity of children.
Unlike other accountability software, Bark proactively monitors text messages, YouTube, emails, and 30+ different social networks for potential safety concerns, so busy parents can save time and gain peace of mind.
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Parents have the option to utilize screen time management and web filtering tools to help set healthy limits around how and when kids use their devices.
Bark works with iOS and Android to monitor texts, photos, and videos for concerning interactions. The service looks for activity that may indicate online predators, adult content, sexting, cyberbullying, drug use, suicidal thoughts, and more.
They offer a 7 day free trial followed by a $14/month plan or a $5/month plan for younger kids.
Designed for families, there are a few different options available for purchase. There is a free version, which will protect one device and has limited functionality.
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Purchase plans can be used on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Kindle, and Nook. Some of the features include the ability to monitor time spent on social media, set time limits, view photos that your child has uploaded, and more.
If your child has an Android device, Qustodio allows you to review who your child is communicating with, read their text messages, and create a list of blocked contacts — all while providing your child with a panic button.
Parents can get Qustodio for $54.95/year for 5 devices, $96.95/year for 10 devices or $137.95/year for 15 devices.
Porn can affect the whole family. Not just the parents, but the children also.
Net Nanny has features aimed at all ages. Parents can monitor and filter their children’s internet activity, and spouses can be accountable to each other or other people.
Net Nanny offers three price plans, each based on the number of devices that will be used. Annual subscriptions are $39.99 for one device (PC or Mac), $54.99 for five devices, and $89.99 for 20 devices. The five and 20 device plans can also be used on Android and iOS devices in addition to PC and Mac.
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Net Nanny allows unlimited customized user profiles, filters, blocks, ability to set time limits, masking profanity, personal accountability, alerts and reporting. There is a robust support section with installation instructions. Tech support is available by phone during normal business hours (8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. MDT).
The website is interactive and user-friendly. They also have a newsletter containing parent tips that you can subscribe to online.
One of the newest protective options available, Circle with Disney, protects all of your family and friend’s devices who are connected to your home’s WiFi system.
Using this system, you can customize daily time limits, filter content based on age, block ads, set bedtimes, and pause the internet for a specific device, individual, or the entire family.
Designed for families with children between the ages of 6 and 16. Pair this system with Circle Go and extend the protection for your children, even when they are using a 4G LTE network.
The In-Home device + subscription is available for $69 for 3 months or $129 for 12 months. Subscription pricing is $9.99/month or $89.99/year. They offer FREE 2-day shipping and a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.
Software Doesn’t Replace Parenting
While all of these are great resources to use, it is my personal opinion that nothing trumps having the difficult conversations with your child.
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Talk to them about the dangers of porn and talking to people online whom they don’t know. Encourage your child to value themselves too much to compromise their integrity and safety by sharing explicit photos of themselves regardless of who is asking.
Randomly check your teen’s browsing history on all of the devices that they have access to whether it be their smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop computer, or smart tv.
Whatever you do, don’t fall in to the trap of thinking that it cannot and will not happen to your child!
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If you’re not sure how to have the difficult conversation with your child, the Conquer Series may be a great place to start.
“I bought this series to watch with my two sons. It was amazing! I realized afterwards that this material was worth FAR more than the small price I paid for these videos.”-Jeff B., Alabama
This series is rated PG-13, so we do encourage parents of children under the age of 18 to preview the series. Please determine if it is age-appropriate for your child and family.