I am a single parent wanting more control of my 3 teenage children’s phone, tablet and computer use. More specifically:
The ability to define the time periods of use on individual devices.
The ability to ‘turn off’ one specific device whilst leaving others operating (eg no phone whilst homework being completed online on a laptop)
No requirement to ‘install’ an app on their devices in order to control the device.
I am assuming given i don’t wish to have direct access to their devices that a modem would be a solution? I’m not great (but not completely bad) with technology and I am committed to finding a solution that helps my family achieve balance, peace and certainty. Any advice/recommendations of products/solutions would be much appreciated.
Ooh good/tricky question.
If the kids have their own 4G phones then all bets are off - they can just hotspot their devices to their phone to get around any easy blocks.
Having said that if they have Windows laptops etc you can set parental control over those - tho it will require you to have an administrative Windows user on their devices and then set yourself up as a family on Microsoft.
If the kids still only have the house wifi at home, then yes the modem is the most reliable way of controlling which devices have access, and blocking undesirable sites.
I also use a device on our home network called a Fingbox, which gives easier quicker control over things on the network, however by nature of how it works it’s potentially not as reliable as control from the modem itself.
It only works if your kids have Apple devices, but Apple’s built-in Screen Time feature is awesome. Once I set it up the first time on my son’s iPad, I haven’t needed to touch it. I can set time limits for individual apps or categories or all apps. If he wants more time on an app he sends a request to my phone, or I can enter the password on his iPad.
I have access to all of the settings and controls from any of my Apple devices signed in with my iCloud account.
I really like the content controls as well
Hi @Genfitz, welcome to the forum and many parents, like yourself, struggle with how to manage their children’s screen time.
The ABC has covered similar issues in the past and maybe Choice one day will also start provide advice for parents…
If they have a smart phone, there are apps which parents can limit the amount of time that one uses the device. This website provides some of the ones available and a summary of their parental controls:
Notwithstanding this, if your child is tech savy, it may be possible for them to try and bypass the controls such as creating an new user on the device. One would need to ensure that the phone is in virtually full lockdown for such devices to work effectively…and one has to also think of the relationship with the child if they think they can’t be trusted.
Alternatively, at home use a device safe to lock devices in (if you do an internet search, there are a range of safes available). This would work for smaller devices (ipads/tablets, phones and potentially smaller notebooks). Speak to your child openly your concerns over high or multiple device use and then work out a plan that you and your child are happy with in relation to device management. This may include locking all devices in the safe until your child has earned the right to use it…such as finished chores or homework…or only releasing at particular times (such as the first hour after getting home from school). Then a (one) device of their choice can be released. If this has time limit controls, you can then effectively manage both the number of devices and total screen time.
Limiting screen duration may be better than restricting operating times as the child would start to prioritise and plan for the device’s use when it is available to be used. Such skills are important later in life, especially in the workplace. It may also reduce what you may think is frivolous use of the device…as such use will gobble up the available time.
What ever you adopt, it should apply to everyone in the family (including parents) as if the child sees parents doing what they like, it will create conflict or potentially jealousy.
It is hard to beat physical security when it comes to electronic devices.
A mobile phone handset that is locked in a drawer/cupboard that you have the key to (until school work is completed) is a lot easier to implement than 'you log in to your modem to disable WiFi (or LAN cable) connection for a particular tablet or computer, and when it is time for the device to again be able to connect to the Internet 'you log in to your modem to enable WiFi (or LAN cable) connection for a particular tablet or computer.
Hi @Genfitz & welcome to the forum.
I would like to second @vombatis’s solution. Having talked to a lot of parents about this, the most effective solution is to physically extract the device from the child. Unfortunately this is difficult if they have to undertake a task(s) on the device; then the presence of a parent/guardian/person of authority to supervise is effective.
I agree with @vombatis and @meltam.
Minor side note to my modem blocks suggestion. At least on my modem, you can just schedule auto block/allow for certain times of day. I use it to block all their devices after bed time until morning.
Hi @Genfitz, I’m not tech savvy so most of these posts have gone right over my head! Hopefully the posts have been helpful and resolved your problem. As you have not responded, please feel free to engage the community if you require further clarification.