Of course, it’s best to explore the online worlds together with your child. But that won’t always be possible or practical.
Media use should take place in an appropriate environment. For example, if the family computer is in a fixed place like the study or living room, your child will be more responsible with it right away. It also allows you to keep an eye on what your child is doing online, and you’re approachable if they need help. However, it is important that your child does not feel controlled and overly confined. This also applies to the use of the smartphone. Talk to your child about what he or she does on the Internet on different devices. Set up a protected user account together. Child and youth protection programs or apps such as Google Family Link for children and teens can help. Also use separate settings on your router or smartphone.
The most important thing is to talk to your child about safety online. Talk about security risks and problematic content. If you find content problematic, you can report it.
As parents, you have an interest in keeping an eye on what your child is doing with media and also what media are doing to your child, depending on their age and stage of development. On the other hand, it is even your duty (as a parent or guardian) to protect your child from inappropriate content. Nevertheless, you probably also want to let your child explore the web independently, give him free space and not control him all the time.
Child and youth protection programs are a possible support for this. These are available for all devices and with more or less functionality. Some settings can also be made without an additional program. Basically, you can create different usage profiles. A central function is often to automatically block websites and search engines to prevent access to certain content such as pornography or illegal data sharing and the like. Likewise, you can record all activities of the user, set blocking times, disable in-app purchases, camera access or individual apps, and much more. The differences between the programs are in the details.
There are many free apps for smartphones and tablets, such as the fragFINN app, Google Family Link or JusProg. For more tips, see our article on Parental Control Apps and here. For PC and laptop, there is both free and paid software, which are then correspondingly more extensive. The operating systems from Microsoft and Apple also have their own settings options. Here, the applications from established Internet security companies in particular perform well in the tests, e.g. Kaspersky or Symantec.
Basically, programs and special settings in the operating system can take some work off your hands. However, they are not a substitute for your educational role, which is reflective media time together and talking with your child.