Keeping your tweens safe online

There’s a careful balance to be had when parenting tweens. On the one hand, you’re trying to teach them the skills they need to become responsible model citizens. On the other hand they’re still developing the social and emotional skills to handle social media and free-range access to the internet. They may have a phone or tablet but internet saftey for kids still needs to be in place for our tweens too.

Parenting a tween is tricky business. I should know, we’re a couple of years into it with our eldest now. I feel like we’re pretty awesome parents for the most part, though I’m sure Princess would disagree at times. I fell pregnant with Princess when I was in my early twenties. As such, she’s been my main sidekick, my mini me. I started this blog because of her! So to say she’s been exposed to the online world from a very early age is true.

Princess tween on her phone

I feel that she’s growing up into an internet savvy pre-teen, but even so I’m not ready to give her free rein on the internet yet. The same is said for her phone. She doesn’t have social media accounts yet (though she has What’s App, which comes with its own issues). I know it’s not long before I cave into the pleas from my tween to have her own TikTok account. I’m trying to instil in her lessons to keep her safe online. At the same time, I’m not above putting restrictions on her devices in order to keep her safe.

There are loads of free apps and services, many built into your kids’ devices which will allow you some control over what they’re able to consume online. I think internet safety is so important for children. Bullying and grooming are real everyday threats to child safety. It would be foolish of us to discount the effects us not managing our children’s accounts and devices can have. We have all seen the ugly side of social media. So whether it’s wanting to protect our children from that or have control over how long they play Roblox online, it’s possible from their Android or Apple devices.

keeping your tween safe black smiling teen


Using Family Link from Google to keep your child safe online

The Mr installed Family Link on our 11 year old’s phone. To say she wasn’t impressed is an understatement. But we explained to her that it isn’t a question of trust, but rather about keeping her safe. It was also to stop her from using all of her free time watching K-Pop videos on YouTube when she should be doing homework or sleeping to be honest.

Family Link is a Google App which helps keep your children safe online. It was created for Android phones. Parents can download the app onto their Android or Apple devices to monitor their children’s online activities. The app can be used to monitor and if necessary, limit screen time as well as keep an eye on the content / apps they use.
The Family Link app also allows you to locate your tween as long as they have their phone on them.

When your child is 13 or whatever the applicable age is in your home country, they will have the option to turn off the Family Link app. This is because they’re no longer considered a child. If and when they do this, you as a parent will be notified and the child in question will find their device temporarily locked.


Parental Controls on Apple IOS devices

We use a mixture of Android and IOS devices in our household. I’m team Apple and the other half is team Android. Though he went through a stage of using iPhones, but we won’t remind him.

One of the reasons I love Apple products is because of how much control I have over the content you can allow your kids to see on them. I don’t think many parents know just how easy it is to personalise IOS and products and Macs past using the Family Sharing option.

The Family Sharing option is great, don’t get me wrong, as you can use it to share services such as Apple Music or iCloud storage. You can set limits on the amount of time your children or teenagers use their phones for and what apps they can download. But there is so much more control than that. There are a host of parental controls hidden in the Screen Time section of our iPhones, iPads and iPods.

Using the Screen Time Settings, you can declare an iPhone, iPod or iPad as being your child’s, set up a parental passcode and have control over so much of the device.

Using Apple’s Parental Controls functionality, you’re able to:

  • Restrict built-in apps and features – for instance, turning off FaceTime, Health, News, Mail etc.
  • Prevent your kids or tweens from installing or deleting apps
  • Prevent your kids from making in-app purchases
  • Limit access to only approved / specific websites
  • Have IOS automatically filter adult content from apps and in Safari
  • Amend the Game Centre controls to prevent multiplayer games, add friends or record their screens

All of these parental controls are available via Settings>Screen Time on your child’s device.

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