Google recently introduced integrated new parental controls where parents can manage and monitor the content that their children are accessing. The Family Link Controls enable parents to safeguard their children’s devices allowing them to set limits on time online and restrict certain areas of the web.
The system also offers the ability to set a screen “bedtime”, locking the phone ahead of the nightly bedtime routine. These settings are wonderful and the additional security is sure to give parents more peace of mind. That being said, despite these extra control features, it is still vital that parents remain hands on and vigilant when it comes to their children’s tech use.
In 2012, the American Association of Paediatrics issued recommendations for parental interaction and management of child media use. They stressed the importance of implementing a Family Media Use Plan to manage screen-time appropriately.
- For children 18 months and under, the AAP advises to limit media entirely, however video chatting with relatives can be permitted to build relationships
- For the 18-24 month group, parents should choose high quality programming and media, ensuring that parents co-view and help to explain to children what they’re seeing.
- The 2-5 years age bracket are permitted up to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Again parents should watch the material with the children to enhance learning
- For children ages 6 and older, it is essential to place limits on screen time and to ensure that tech use is not impinging on sleep, healthy eating or exercise.
When used correctly, mobile apps can have a positive effect on children. However unsupervised mobile technology use leaves children vulnerable to vast swathes of inappropriate material which parents can overlook.
A recent Medium article by James Bridle investigated children’s the trolling of children’s Youtube content. A deepdive into the content demonstrated video content labelled with revenue generating keywords, generic children’s cartoon graphics being spliced together to create endless scrolling playlists designed to enrapture young children. Titles such as “Halloween Finger Family & more Halloween Songs for Children | Kids Halloween Songs Collection”, “Australian Animals Finger Family Song | Finger Family Nursery Rhymes”, “Farm Animals Finger Family and more Animals Songs | Finger Family Collection – Learn Animals Sounds” are picked up by Youtube’s algorithms and added to content playlists. These clips often bypass parental controls as the content is deemed harmless and falls into the children’s keyword category. Frighteningly, disturbing and unsettling video content frequently surfaced. Trolls can insert nightmarish footage into seemingly harmless kids content, using keywords to optimise views. Ultimately, their goal is to terrify children.
While the advent of parental control settings is nothing new, enhancements and updates can make parents more complacent. Remember, it is essential to be mindful not only of the content that you are absorbing, but also what your kid is absorbing.
Tips for Parental Controls
- Regularly update Youtube parental controls
- Co-view media whenever possible
- Speak to your children about what they have just seen
- Manage screen time and ensure that limits are in place
- Use Google Parental Controls to manage your children’s app use
Interested in creating a Family Media Use Plan? Find out more here
For more on setting Youtube Controls, click here.