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Should You Use Parental Controls on Your Child's Phone?

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Parental controls can help you protect your child and limit screen time, but using them can feel like you're spying on your kids. Many parents are on the fence about using tracking apps and parental controls, but there are many valid reasons to consider using them.

In 2015, kids between the ages of 8 and 12 were spending six hours a day consuming media. In 2017, kids aged 8 and younger spent about 48 minutes a day staring at a mobile screen. About 42% of kids aged 8 and younger have their own tablets. We're at a point where smartphones, tablets and the Internet are an integral part of our daily lives.

In Defense of Parental Controls – The Benefits

Just as we monitor and help control our children's behavior in potentially dangerous situations in the real world, we should at least be monitoring our child's activity on smartphones and tablets.


One of the primary benefits to using parental controls is that they help protect your child. Not only can they help protect your child from potential predators, but they can also help shield your children from viewing content you don't want them to see.

With parental controls, you have the ability to block and allow apps, so you can keep the kids from viewing questionable content. If you don't want your kids on social media apps, like Facebook or Instagram, you can block them, too.

Keep Tabs on Your Child's Behavior

For teens and older children, having the ability to monitor texts and calls can help you keep tabs on your child's behavior.

While we like to believe that our children are angels, they are still kids. When older kids have smartphones, it's very easy for them to break the rules. If you have reason to believe that your kid may be doing something he or she isn't supposed to be doing, tracking apps and parental controls can help you see what's really going on.

Limit Screen Time

One of the main reasons parents consider using parental controls is to limit screen time. Most apps allow you to set time limits for daily use, or you can choose to block use during certain times of the day, like homework or dinner time.

Limiting screen time is something most parents can get behind, especially if their kids will not listen to the rules. Parental controls can help you enforce the rules, so your kids spend more time in the real world (not in front of a screen).

How Much Control is Too Much Control?

While there are certainly benefits to using parental controls, some kids may feel like they aren't trusted by their parents or that they're being spied on.

Experts recommend getting the kids involved in setting up the controls and being transparent about them. The goal is to have your kids understand that these controls are only in place to protect their best interests – not limit their "fun" or entertainment.

It's also important not to be overzealous when blocking websites, or you may prevent your kids from reaching some truly educational sites.

This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.