We are parenting in a new digital age. And with that comes new challenges about screen time limits, playing of certain apps and social media. Two new apps, ScreenTime and WebWatcher are helping parents navigate this new age by setting screen time limits, blocking certain apps at specific times, viewing messages, recording data and more. Read on to learn more about how they work:
Apps to Help Navigate Digital Parenting
Is there an ideal time when kids should start using tech?
Kids are starting to use technology as young as two years old. Whether it is watching television shows and movies or playing games on a tablet, technology is, more times than not, accessible to them. However, what is more important is how parents moderate the amount of time children use technology and sensor what their children are viewing. Just look at the most powerful leaders in technology. Evan Spiegel, the founder and CEO of Snapchat, only allows his children 90 minutes of screen time per week. Screen time can become addicting if used excessively, so it is critical that parents control their technology usage.
How do you create barriers around tech for little kids?
Parents need to become more tech savvy in order to set time limits and parental controls, as these tools are readily available in the marketplace. Recently, studies have come out about the damaging affects screen time addiction has on the development of a child’s brain. These studies should be major red flags to parents about how crucial it is to use parental controls to moderate both the amount of time and content.
Tell us about good and bad tech for kids?
Good technology for kids would be content created to be educational, such as learning videos and books. In reality, parents often use technology to keep their children distracted, which often results in excessive use.
What’s important to remember is we are all human, sometimes we need a moment to ourselves, so we let the kids watch a movie or play educational games on the tablet. But always remember, all technology no matter if it is educational or not, is considered “bad tech” when used excessively.
Tell us more about Screen Time and WebWatcher.
ScreenTime is a parental control app designed to help parents manage their kid’s screen usage. Parents can limit the amount of time their child can use his/her device each day. Studies show children should only be allowed between 60-120 minutes per day. On Screen Time, parents will also be able to set schedules for when the phone can be used. This feature allows parents to set schedules for daily activities such as bedtime or school. Parents seem to particularly love the Pause Button – a button they can press on their own smartphones, that “pauses” their kids’ devices remotely. Also, we can’t forget to mention the Reward System, that lets the child earn more screen time by completing chores and other tasks.
WebWatcher is a phone and computer monitoring app that lets parents supervise their tweens’ and teens’ device use. It records all service activity including text and private messaging content, social media, web browser history and searches, photos, GPS locations and more. From there, it transmits all recorded data to a secure online account where it is processed through intelligent filters so parents can be alerted to risky behavior. If needed, all recorded data is also available for review remotely, giving parents ultimate peace of mind.
How did the idea for ScreenTime and WebWatcher come about?
ScreenTime started, as you might guess, with screens and children. A dad (Steve) needed a way to reduce the time his three kids used their new tablets that didn’t involve him running a timer, nagging, or even worse, hiding their tablets. After searching online, Steve got an itch to build something himself. The side-project later became so useful at home that he decided to give it a name and release it on the Play Store for other parents to use.
WebWatcher was developed in 2002 initially for uses of counter-terrorism for Windows PCs. As the years went on the software was developed to become a tool that parents could use to monitor their children’s online activities.
How would a parent use them?
Screen Time is compatible with Android and iOS. The app is very easy to use and upon setup it gives parents step-by-step instructions on how to schedule your child’s screen time, create tasks, and more. The service’s main strength is its reward system, which lets kids earn more screen time by completing agreed tasks such as homework. Parents can also block apps entirely or override all restrictions temporarily for a “free play” period.
WebWatcher is an award-winning parental monitoring app, allowing parents to monitor a device discretely from a secure online account. It is compatible with all five key operating systems (Android, iOS, PC, Mac & Chromebook). WebWatcher’s stand-out feature is its Alert Log tool. This feature scans all recorded data and uses proprietary filters to identify and highlight items deemed to be risky behavior. Parents receive real-time alerts of all identified risky behavior, which means they can focus their attention on only important items. All recorded data is available for review at any time, but it is up to the parent to decide how much they want to see.
Anything else to add?
There are many parents who are reluctant to use technology to parent their kids. But parents must understand it is their responsibility to supervise their children’s technology usage as they would supervise any risky activities their children may be involved in. There are tools available to parents, like WebWatcher and Screen Time, so take advantage of them to ensure your children stay safe.