One of the big problems I faced when I started this blog is that I didn’t know what people don’t know. I have a lot of technical knowledge. I’ve been in the IT industry for over 16 years. I have a natural ability when it comes to tech (cooking, crafts and all the other things a Mom “should” be good at continue to elude my ability to grasp though).
When we did the BYUtv episode for Family Rules, the host called it the “curse of knowledge” and I LOVED that. That is why I’m so grateful for Facebook groups like mine that allow people to ask questions so I can see what people need to know.
One thing I see a lot of people asking for is how to control or monitor their children’s devices for free. I get that money can be tight. I really do. It’s also possible that when you pay for a seemingly unlimited number of subscription services it can become overwhelming. However, nothing comes for free, and in order to protect your family, there are some things you are going to need to pay for.
Here is the problem with free apps. You’ve heard the phrase, “nothing is free” right? So if you aren’t purchasing a product… YOU are the product. Facebook is free, but people are able to pay to advertise to you. Candy crush is free, but there are ads on the platform.
If you are looking for something for free to help protect your kids… what is the actual product? Is it your children’s data? Is it your data? Something is paying for that application to be built and maintained. Where is the money coming from?
There are developers to pay, there are marketing departments. Do you really want to rely on someone to help your family be safe online, who is doing this app as a side project while they earn money at their real job?
Sure, there are a couple of free ways to help monitor and protect your kids. Both are from the company that creates the operating system of the smartphones. Apple has Screen Time built into iOS devices, and Google has Family Link. In both cases, the product is the phone itself that you purchase. So, they have incentives to improve their offering, so you keep buying phones from them.
I don’t like relying on just one layer of protection. There are too many ways to get around parental controls to just rely on one system. Honestly, most parental control apps are pretty inexpensive, and for me, it is completely worth it to have just a little bit of extra peace of mind.
In addition to the parental controls within the operating system. I like using Boomerang to give me detailed reports on YouTube history and texting. I use Bark to notify me of anything concerning inside social media apps like Instagram. My Gryphon router filters the internet and controls devices on my network.
There are so many different devices and services you can sign up for, so take some time and find the right ones for you. Even if they are paid solutions. Just like I don’t hesitate to pay for health insurance for my family, I consider these applications essential costs to ensure my kids are able to use technology without falling into some of the traps and pitfalls that lurk online.
Just consider it your online safety insurance. Put it in the same budget category as health, home, and auto insurance. I promise you won’t regret that you have them the first time you find a problem on your kid’s devices. Your family’s online safety is WORTH it!
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using the links.
Sarah Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 16 years of her career as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on KSL News, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website SarahKimmel.com