By now your child’s has been in school..virtually that is, for a few weeks…and COVID is still here. So of course this means our kids are sitting in front of the computer for about 4-6 hours daily, and that’s just for school.
Because we’re still social distancing, and home for the most part till Covid is gone, and I don’t know about your house, but my son bounces between his Playstation, iPad and phone being indoors. So add in virtual learning and that’s screen overload, so I wanted to share some more tips and apps to help with managing screen time on your kid’s devices.
iOS, so iPhones and iPads
If your kids have an iPhone, iPad or an iPhone there are built in controls for managing your child’s screen time. In settings on any of these devices you can go into settings, then go to screen time, and set hours of use for the device. Set allowed apps (you can even disable the built-in ones depending on what you want child to have access to). Restrict certain content, based on maturity ratings, and web content because we know they can literally stumble across anything on the internet.
You can do this directly on their device, or if you have configured Family Sharing, then you can manage these things from your device.
- Go to Settings > Screen Time.
- Tap Turn On Screen Time.
- Tap Continue.
- Select This is My device or This is My Child’s device.
From here you can now setup and manage what your child sees, uses, and how often. For a more in-depth tutorial, or details, you can can check out this Apple knowledge article.
Android OS/Chrome OS
So while I’m Apple everything I the my son has an Android (teens still drop phones, and we have bills lol). So I’ve got you covered for Androids, and Chrome OS, because a lot of kids, younger ones have a Chromebook they utilize for school.
For these devices you can use Google Family Link. Now of course you do need a Google Account of some kind, most of us have a Gmail account, as do our children. With Google Family Link (which is FREE) you can:
- monitor your child’s activity on their device
- approve or block apps they want to download from the Google Play Store
- Set daily screen time limits as well as set a bedtime for their device.
- You can also remotely lock their device to make them take a break from it
- Family link even has location tracking, so you can see where you child is with their device. (I’ve used this because our son walked from the bus stop and got home before we did)
Third Party Apps that help Manage Screen
Now there are a few other options out there, who am I kidding there are floods of apps that do some variation of monitoring, but I’m gonna include two that I’ve used personally.
The Bark App, is the one I am currently using because…teenager/social media…but I wanted monitor what he did without constantly asking to see his phone. Which don’t get me wrong I still randomly do but social media is a whole other area to be careful in what your child is exposed to, because there are weirdos out here, and some flat out inappropriate things on social media. Bark allows me to monitor his social accounts, which of course it doesn’t invade or hack them, you have to sit down and talk to your teen to have them grant access to the app.
No it’s not sending every thing he does to my phone, it scans for inappropriate things, such as alcohol, sex, cyberbullying, and suicidal thoughts, if it picks that up it alerts me. This is something that you can review, then have a conversation about with your teen. Now it’s software sooo sometimes I’ll get an alert for a YouTube video that is off, you can tell it not to alert about that video or similar ones.
Bark monitors, Instagram, SnapChat, Tik Tok, Facebook, Gmail, Kik, WhatsApp, GroupMe, and more, over 30+ apps. It monitors text messages too, again doesn’t send me his messages or let me peek into his threads, it only alerts me if it finds something troubling. They’ve added the ability to manage screen time, and location tracking which made it better! I mean clearly during this pandemic our kids don’t go anywhere but still. Another bonus, Bark even works on Amazon tablets, so if you have a Fire tablet for your kids you can monitor it as well.
Bark isn’t a free app, but it calmed my nerves when we let my son on social because I didn’t want him in a bubble but I don’t want him overexposed. Bark is $14/month but that covers unlimited devices, they also have a junior plan that’s $5/month if you have younger kids and just want to manage screen time, location tracking, and filter websites they visit. They have a 7-day free trial, you can try it here
*I’m a Bark Ambassador, so there is a referral link in this post
Another one, that I’ve used personally…Qustodio. This one is my first suggestion if you’re just trying to manage screentime and what your kids are accessing on the computer as they work on Windows and Mac OS. You can set screen time limits and block sites. It even works on the private browsing because kids try it.
I’ve had a few people reach out and ask how they could manage where their kids were online during school hours because all it takes is another tab open and they’re distracted. Listen I’m an adult and I always have tabs open and our kids know how to navigate this digital space better than some adults. This software has several different tiers based on the devices you need to cover, the smallest plan covering 5 devices, is $54.95/yr.
So I hope these are helpful for you!! Do you manage your kids screen time?