How are you monitoring internet when kids play on your phone?

A friend sent me an exasperated note that her 9-year-old had gotten into dangerous internet water while playing on the family’s old iPhone that had been passed down to the kids.

So her questions are: Are you passing down old phone as play things for your kids? (While I am writing this Walsh is playing Angry Birds on my phone.) And if so, how are you monitoring internet usage on the phone? (I just had to take my phone away because I just got two emails alerting me to app downloads. They were free but he didn’t ask. You have to ask!)

We were using parental controls with You Tube on the big computer and the kids were still wandering into questionable areas so we have just blocked You Tube on the PC entirely.

I’m not sure what parental controls you have on an iPhone or Android phone. I have never tried to block anything on my current phone and we don’t have any hand-me downs to give them. Let me know if you have set any parental controls on your phone and how to do it.

Are you monitoring while they play on your phone? If so, how?

49 comments Add your comment

Anj

November 17th, 2011
6:10 am

Don’t have a cell phone, so that’s not a problem for us.

OTOH – it may be that there is such a thing as being TOO user friendly. My kids have to actually type words into the search engine which means
a) they have to practice literacy skills
b) they are (mostly) limited to things they are familiar with such as “flash games”.

“touch” devices don’t require much in the way of literacy and you can easily navigate anywhere without knowing where you are going. “Looks interesting..” [point] and away you go!

motherjanegoose

November 17th, 2011
6:33 am

@ Anj…you do not have a cell phone or your kids do not? I do not know many adults without a cell phone…except perhaps my Dad.

We had an old bag phone ( haha) when my kids were small with no games and so I have nothing to share here.

I will say that my two never took advantage of any cell phone plan we had, as long as they have had their own phones. Ours are still on my plan as it is cheaper to have 4 lines on one that for them to have their own. I would also put my sister on my plan but she does not use my provider. I know adult friends whose kid’s cell phone usage was nearly $500 for the kid’s phone. We have not had that problem here.

shaggy

November 17th, 2011
6:56 am

Solution – Don’t “past” down cell phones at all, just recycle them or sell them, and buy prepaid, no app-just text (because text is the only way they will ever learn any kind of written English skill.) and voice (so they can say “like” 5 million times a day.) phone.
Now, once I “passed” a phone for my friend to use, and he gave it back.

motherjanegoose

November 17th, 2011
7:02 am

oops…than for them to have their own…sorry!

@ shaggy… I cannot stand to eat dinner in a restaurant and see other guests whose eyes are glued to their phones with games and texting. Why bother eating out with friends if you are addicted to your phone? I text but I am not addicted to it and I have never played a game on a phone. I am simply not interested. I do not play games on the computer either. When I am meeting someone for dinner, I want to visit with that person…not my cell phone.

Anj

November 17th, 2011
7:28 am

@MJG

Nope. No cell. Ironically, my husband writes system software for mobile devices and he doesn’t have one. He has a work pager which suffices for that purpose and family emergencies. (When he sees a # he doesn’t recognize, he knows it is me and that I am likely at a hospital.) If he did carry a cell, he’d have it turned off most of the time – thus defeating the purpose.

We use land line at home because he needs a secure connection for work purposes (cable internet is not secure and wireless, very much not secure). We have all the technology we need, not all the technology there is. TBH – a lot of comm/e-comm is redundant, so people pay for overlapping services for convenience.

ABC

November 17th, 2011
7:31 am

No monitoring. Kid knows to only use his own apps, and if he wants to go outside of those he asks. Guess we’re lucky with our kid, since it’s the same with TV. He knows he can watch anything on PBS Kids when he’s allowed to have the TV on and will not change the channel even if we are not in the vicinity. Maybe that will change when he’s older, but for now we don’t seem to need any TV/smartphone/computer controls, thank goodness.

motherjanegoose

November 17th, 2011
7:34 am

@ Anj…it would be impossible for me to travel without a cell phone…even in metro. I was on the interstate for 2 hours yesterday and stuck in traffic, so I needed to check in with my client. I could not give up my cell phone and have a job…that’s just me!

Anj

November 17th, 2011
8:14 am

Cells for work is perfectly understandable.
(As long as people can separate their work and social lives. We all know of someone who can’t.)

I find it ironic that my husband’s company doesn’t pay for a work cell, but then again, he only needs a pager to get messages and a secure internet connection to work on requests – so a cell would not add much in terms of accessibility (little) or functionality (none).

Figment

November 17th, 2011
8:15 am

I have no plans to get a cell phone for my son when he’s older. I really see no need for children to have cell phones. My son plays games on my iPod but he’s not able to access the internet or download any games on it since I have that disabled.

homeschooler

November 17th, 2011
8:17 am

My kids have an iTouch that they bought with their own money. It has been a blessing for me b/c they do not ask to play with my phone. They mostly take pics and videos and download free games. They don’t get on the internet. When they play on my iphone they do get on youtube which can be a problem. The internet is more difficult to access on the itouch as you have to be in a “hot spot” so they just don’t usually do it. FYI..it’s amazing how you can type in something so innocent and come up with filth. My daughter was on my work computer and typed in “fox” (images) because she needed to draw a fox. OMG. Anyone ever heard of Megan Fox? You can find her with (almost) no clothes on by googling “fox”. How silly I was to thing my child would pull up a picture of a actual fox by typing in “fox”.

jarvis

November 17th, 2011
8:39 am

Software….Netnanny.

My iPhone is really locked down. I have a few games on there, and the kids don’t know my phone password or my iTunes password to load anything or play without my knowing.

Techmom

November 17th, 2011
8:49 am

Here’s a site that will walk you through how to set up parental controls for an iPhone: http://knol.google.com/k/how-to-setup-parental-controls-on-iphone-ipod-touch-os-3-0-edition#
There is also an app for a web browser that is kid friendly and allows excellent parental controls. Can’t beat it for $5.

You can also be sure to set your iTunes password to something your kids don’t know so they can’t download anything without you entering the password. My son is 16 and we still share an iTunes account so that it’s easy for me to see what he’s downloading.

Beyond that parents should set up parental controls on their wireless router at home. If you have a router, go to the manufacturer’s website, find the model number and look for parental control instructions. If you block things through your router then anyone using wifi in your house is blocked from certain sites which IMO is necessary today in the day and age of wifi enabled devices (just b/c your child’s iPhone/iTouch has parental controls set up, doesn’t mean the iTouch that belongs to the kid whose spending the night is).

These devices are only going to get cheaper and more prolific. Don’t ignore them b/c you’re afraid of the technology; embrace them, learn how to use them and learn how to control them. There are tons of resources online to help you.

Wayne

November 17th, 2011
9:10 am

@Anj: Wow! Your husband’s company doesn’t sound that sophisticated. Even the hospital I work at is more up to date than that. Landlines? More secure than cable? Ouch. There’s technology for that. We’re trying to get rid of pagers because that isn’t supported like it used to be.

Most my son plays on my iPhone is Angry Birds, or whatever it’s called. He keeps asking to upgrade or do something else with it. I ask: does it cost money? No. Does it require my password to connect to the Apple store? No. You have a 3DS for that sort of thing. Use that.

Paquet du 10

November 17th, 2011
9:12 am

Hey look! A parenting blog that is actually discussing parenting.

What’s the over under tomorrow’s blog reverts back to inane banter about what to wear when gorcery shopping?

Wayne

November 17th, 2011
9:27 am

@Pacquet: that could be a Fun Friday Topic!

Wayne

November 17th, 2011
9:28 am

I’d really like to know what folks wear when they go “gorcery” shopping.

JJ

November 17th, 2011
9:32 am

I usually wear clothes when I grocery shop…

jarvis

November 17th, 2011
9:49 am

Usually? Hey now!

YellsBells&Smells

November 17th, 2011
9:51 am

My wife and I are expecting our first child together after the new year. I have been childless a long time (I’m over 40). Maybe that’s why I can’t seem to get my undies in a wad over “inapprorpiate” material. Perhaps I’m missing something….what exactly do the folks on this blog consider to be inappropriate material on the internet, tv, or otherwise?

JJ

November 17th, 2011
9:58 am

Congrats YellsBells&Smells!!!!

And when you become a parent, YOU will decide what’s inappropriate for YOUR child. Don’t worry about what other people consider inappropriate, you make your own decisions, and what feels right in your situation!!

And, as my doctor told me right after I had my child, “If you have any questions, or need advice, go as YOUR MOM. She obviously did a good job with you, so she has good experience”!!! Best advise I’ve ever had…..

JJ

November 17th, 2011
9:58 am

~ask~ your Mom…sorry

GoldieLocks

November 17th, 2011
10:05 am

@ Wayne: I don’t find it strange that Ang’s husband needs a landline for work purposes because my husband does as well.
OT: Some parents are not monitoring the internet usage by their children…..but they need to be.

Anj

November 17th, 2011
10:11 am

Inappropriate would be Adult Entertainment aka p*o*r*n.

Also adult chat rooms, “dating” or escort service sites or anything else involving explicit depictions of human sexuality. Also war p*o*r*n, or explicit depictions of physical violence, cruelty or animal abuse.

Youtube can be a problem because there are posts that are stupid pranks, and posts that are highly dangerous attempts at stupid or malicious pranks – and the line is often quite blurred. The same can be said for juvenile humor youtubes, some of which attempt to be humorous and miss and others which pretend to be humorous but are vicious and nasty. My oldest son has found some of them – and when he started modelling his own behavior on them, we had a little chat about actions and consequences. He reconsidered his initial opinion of them.

TBH – most of these he did not find on his own or by chance, but via friends, relatives and classmates.

YellsBells&Smells

November 17th, 2011
10:25 am

@ JJ….thanks. I appreciate it. I just hear parents everywhere talking about shielding their kids from so many of the perceived evils of the world. While I agree that you should not place your child in situations where they can be harmed, I just cannot seem to fathom allowing a child to grow up without seeing all the world has to offer both good and bad. I want my child to be educated and have as firm of a grasp as possible on what they will face as an adult. I feel as though I was sheltered for the first 12 years of my life and while it was happy and carefree, when reality hit at 12 I was woefully unprepared for it.

JOD

November 17th, 2011
10:41 am

@Paquet – That might be a more interesting topic than you think. Anyone who’s ever been to the ‘pick up’ Publix in Vinings can tell you that.

@YB&S – Congrats to you and Mrs. YB&S. Finding the right balance of sheltering and exposing is something I know we will struggle with when DD is older. ‘Age appropriate’ can be subjective.

I just got a smart phone recently and am just figuring out some useful things. Unfortunately it is a ‘pass-down’ of Hubs’, and it’s not really supported for new apps anymore. I’m thinking I want my own dang new phone! We may pass a phone down to DD at some point, but I know Hubs will have that puppy rigged up with all kinds of parental controls…

Anj

November 17th, 2011
10:55 am

Search tips:

When searching for a plant or animal, first look up the scientific name. For “fox” it would be “vulpes”. Do a copy and paste into your search engine and you will greatly narrow the search results as well as eliminating some unwanted results.

To find scholarly articles, use your keyword and “the role of” as a precise phrase to search on. This usually eliminates sites that are trying to sell you something. (A real problem when trying to research nutrition.)

Teach your children to prefer .gov sites for school work. They might need your assistance in the event of TMI, but the data is generally good and straight from the source.

oneofeach4me

November 17th, 2011
11:01 am

My phone is off limits because it’s mine and there may be things in there they don’t need to see… IJS. They can use the computer which is like Ft Knox with the parental controls. There is even a parental lock on the TV (my mom gets frustrated because she can never remember the code when she comes over). Because I am so busy with everything, I don’t have time to stand over them and watch their every move. However, they do have to use the laptop at the kitchen table or whatever room I am in at the time so I can at least peek over their shoulder.

combustible huxtable

November 17th, 2011
11:16 am

To me it seems as simple as not letting the kids play on the phone. Perhaps find something else to play with that doesn’t require recharging.

Wayne

November 17th, 2011
11:25 am

@GoldieLocks: It just seems strange to me. In a health care setting where everything we do has to be encrypted, dialup landlines seem so yesterday. In the advent of VPN technology, you can go much faster. If you’re talking DSL, that’s a different ballgame (other than dialup modem), and can be compared to how cable works. It’s not a landline.

TechMom brought up a good point. With today’s routers that you can get at Staples, they have some tools built in to help with parental controls. Subject, time of day, etc. I haven’t used them – my kids are still at the PBS stage, but I’ll probably do it at some point. I know of one Dad that used his router to turn off all internet access at a certain time of night. I don’t know that I’d go that far, but he did it because his kid(s) would be up all night on their devices (computer, smartphone, etc.) playing around. I wouldn’t go that far because I too need to remotely access work and I don’t want to have to turn on the router to do that!

catlady

November 17th, 2011
11:35 am

The greatest “parental control”: limited useage and maximum monitoring!

Anj

November 17th, 2011
11:49 am

Landline is so yesterday, but also a yesterday when landlines were considered essential to national security so they were mandated by the federal government to go everywhere and be reliable under as many circumstances as possible.

IOW – there are many things that can knock out cell service (weather events, high demand) that will leave land line service unaffected. This is something I am grateful for every time we have a power outage. Old fashioned, but reliable.

In addition, there is the $$$ to consider – especially when it comes out of your own pocket and can’t be written off as a business expense. We aren’t Luddites, we just have a different definition of what technology is a priority for us.

Anj

November 17th, 2011
11:56 am

Oh – and DSL is indeed land line. It’s the way the services are delivered and not the service itself. You can get dial up or DSL via a land line, as long as your utility company supports them.

It’s like cable. Cable is the means of delivery, not the service itself.

Techmom

November 17th, 2011
12:04 pm

@Anj I’m not sure why your husband requires a “landline for secure connection to work”. Does he literally dial directly into a specific server?

I do have a landline at home, internet service which I connect my laptops to via wifi and use VPN software to connect to both my company and the company I do work for (I work in IT consulting company). Wireless technology can be made secure very easily and most companies that have remote workers have VPN service which can be used with ANY existing connection to the internet. I’ve worked from McDonald’s and Starbucks in a pinch when our power or internet service has been out.

I keep a landline b/c there are days when I’m on the phone 5-6 hours. My cell coverage in my house can be spotty and I simply can’t stand the delay on cell phones. Many of my colleagues only use their cell phones but quite frankly, if you have internet service, the additional cost of having a landline is minimal. Plus my cell phone is my personal device and I do not want my co-workers or the client to think that I am always available anywhere. I don’t get paid enough for that!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

November 17th, 2011
12:09 pm

sorry Shaggy — I will correct — I have been having one craptacular week!!! very, very bad week and spelling suffers — sorry!

Packed Colon

November 17th, 2011
12:32 pm

I can’t use Packed Colon for a name, but you can say craptacular?

Just how messed up are you?

By the way, Packed Colon is OK on other blogs. Don’t blame the editor for your actions.

Anj

November 17th, 2011
1:06 pm

Techmom – I agree about not being available. If my husband was given a work cell and everyone was given permission to use it to contact him, he would have no life – or he could switch to charging by the hour and move us up a tax bracket!

I loathe the digital clipping, poor sound quality and audio delay on cell phones. All of those can be improved greatly, but consumers are more easily impressed by new bells and whistles – so that is what gets the development dollars. If we could only convince consumers not to be so easily dazzled by the shiny objects…. :/

Wayne

November 17th, 2011
1:06 pm

DSL does use copper lines to get to the Central Office, but the switching technology behind it is the same as cable. Still goes out over the internet via points of presence. Unless you’re talking dedicated leased lines, or dial up modem. And even then, dial up modems are at (generally speaking) a POP.

Understand, I’m not knocking it! Up until very recently, where I live, I couldn’t get DSL or broadband – dial up modem was all I had. I became a cable commissioner for the very specific reason of getting broadband technology into our town – it’s a rural town cable company.

I’m in IT as well, so just trying to figure out why you would need a dialup modem. Just curiousity is all.

(speaking of controlling access to things) One of my friends works for a town that the IT administrator will not allow internet access to any buildings. All the buildings are tied together, but you can’t get to the internet from you computer. He’s relaxed that a bit – he’s had to. If my friend needed a patch or to update something, he had to go to the town library, download it and then bring it back. Wow.

Anj

November 17th, 2011
1:08 pm

Packed Colon,

I know of many usernames which are far more outrageous than yours. I judge not on the username, but the substance of your comments…and you haven’t given us much to go on.

Techmom

November 17th, 2011
1:16 pm

@Packed Colon, do you really want to advertise that you’re full of $h!t?

Wayne

November 17th, 2011
1:32 pm

@Techmom: Nice!

motherjanegoose

November 17th, 2011
2:04 pm

@ Yells…congrats! My advice, take it or leave it, is to look at families who have kids you think are admirable. I call this the sidewalk theory. Others are ahead of you on the sidewalk of life and may know more than you do. If you have a baby, then you will be looking at parents of toddlers, if it is preschool, then it will be parents of elementary schoolers, middle school..high school and high school…college etc. People can give lots of advice but if you see their children and they are indeed GOOD KIDS then you will take their advice seriously. This is perhaps why so many of the parents I chatted with, when I taught for 5 years before kids, looked like they wanted to roll their eyes at me. Many did say “wait until you have your own children.” Being a parent and being 100% responsible and typically accountable for your own child really opens your eyes. Every day is NOT wonderful, when having children. Many days are!

My two are in college and I always looked to those ahead of me for advice. I now speak with those who have young marrieds or grand children and always learn things to tuck away for future reference. I do ask some of my blog friends here, when I have a dilemma too!

@ JJ…I RARELY took my Mom’s advice:
YOU CANNOT POSSIBLY BREAST FEED A 10 POUND BABY.
You should not go back to work after you have children.
You need to alphabetize your spices in your pantry.
Woman cannot balance a check book.
You don’t reason with a child…you spank them.
Yes, they have to eat everything on their plate before getting any dessert.
My mom was also fastidious about putting toilet paper on the public toilet seat but not so much for hand washing when you used the potty…I still do not understand that one as I think you can pick up and share more germs by not washing your hands after using the potty. Anyone else know?

While I did grow up in my parent’s house, I am not much like either one of them with the exception that I love to talk ( my mom) and I am not afraid to work hard ( my dad). Going to college and moving to different parts of the country really broadened my horizons.

catlady

November 17th, 2011
2:46 pm

Packed: Change it to semi

Fred

November 17th, 2011
4:39 pm

I thought I might ruffle some feathers with MY comment, but yells, beels and something stole my ‘thunder.”

My daughter (9) can view any damn thing on the web she wants to view. If she’s a psychopathic murderer in the making, then I want to know so if she goes to animal torture sites with regularity I WILL know. If she goes to porn sites then she goes to porn sites. If she doesn’t see the degradation of the participants, then I reckon I haven’t taught her well. Besides, if she is going there now at HER age, then I reckon I need to find out what has her sexually active.

We actually have the REVERSE problem that most of you seem to have. She will ask ME to review music video’s and lyrics for her to see if they are “appropriate.” She has channel surfed into movies and such and told me they weren’t “appropriate’ for her. I asked why. She said, “It’s PG 13 and I’m 9″ or “It’s rated R” and I said, “So? What’s your point?”

@Anj: You husband works directly or indirectly for AT&T right? It’s the ONLY reason I can think of that you post that insane, incorrect DRIVEL about Cable being so “insecure.” I mean there HAS to be a reason you want folks to use the turtle slow, hit or miss, 1990’s, crappy technology of DSL rather than using high speed up to date stuff. NOTHING is “secure” if someone wants to hack it badly enough. If you really ARE serious, then quit kidding yourself. You certainly aren’t kidding me, I know better. I’m overly paranoid about computer security and use stuff that you have never heard of. I also write some myself. But I’m not naive enough to know that no matter WHAT I use, someone CAN hack me if they want. It just takes patience and skill. Luckily, I’m not important enough for someone to go to the great effort needed to do so.

Anj

November 17th, 2011
6:15 pm

@Fred

I’m not sure what the security protocols are, but they work and don’t inconvenience us in any way. His work hardly requires massive bandwidth. Bandwidth hogs are usually things like streaming video which we don’t do. Work is either editing/reviewing documents, writing software or running system tests remotely.

Yeah….speed speed SPEED is important for, shall we say, less critical tasks. I like his attitude towards early adopters: “Let them pay top price and deal with new tech. I’ll wait until the technology has matured and the prices have dropped.”. I resist because of the industry’s reliance on wooing/wowing customers with bells and whistles.

[snicker]
“Since the first quarter of 2011 many complaints have emerged across the web about the capacity of Sprint’s 3G Network. Many customers have complained of extremely slow data speeds well below their advertised levels and comparable to dialup during peak hours of the day.” Ouch!

Cutting edge tech without cutting edge infrastructure is….well, it’s where we are right now.

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Fred

November 18th, 2011
5:56 pm

Anj: Comcast’s SLOWEST speed, if double the speed of DSL’s FASTEST speed and a 5th of the cost. Cable internet is not an ‘early adopter’ technology. Hell, people over seas laugh at how slow our internet speeds are. We are about a decade behind Europe and most of Asia in Internet AND wireless.

Anj

November 19th, 2011
6:30 am

I was just laughing at the premium prices mobile users pay for not great service – limited by bandwidth.

BTW – who is funding the infrastructure elsewhere? The land line infrastructure were created by mandate. I don’t know if the feds funded it in part – it seems likely since it was considered National Security. In fact, the railroad barons made their fortunes partly by convincing the government to help finance/fund their projects. The truth is that purely private businesses will only create infrastructure where a short term profit can be made. Having excess capacity is considered wasting resources, so mobile services of all types have little incentive to increase capacity (bandwidth/switching) unless they are running close to capacity already. Part of their business model is to sell additional services to existing customers, even if their infrastructure isn’t adequate to support the potential demand.

Cable I’m not fond of – their service record is not great, their cables are not buried properly(at least locally), and I don’t need the added expense. Some of my family has satellite – partly because they are rural and partly because it is a better deal than cable in the city. Of course, they don’t have satellite internet because it is much more expensive than DSL or cable. My rural rel uses a mobile phone and internet because it is an economical option. He has no cable access and the mobile is cheaper than comparable land line service. (not better than, but cheaper than)

In the future, it will likely come down to who has the money to build and maintain the infrastructure necessary to deliver services. Right now we have three competing data/voice services: mobile, land line and cable. Land line has the advantage of an existing infrastructure, cable ranks a close second and mobile tech is lagging badly. Mobile users place a higher priority on convenience and accessibility, and accept poorer service as part of the price they pay.

It all comes down to if a technology provides an acceptable service at a price you are willing to pay. For my rel out in the sticks – mobile gives him what he needs at a price he can afford. Another rel uses land line, satellite and a donated mobile. We use land line only, although we could get full service cable and theoretically “full service” mobile. (But since my husband works in that field, we know that full mobile service only works “in theory”.) I seriously doubt mobile tech will ever displace a line&switch tech. Building and maintaining a truly competitive infrastructure is going to be incredibly expensive – and that would cut into profits…

So they keep on tacking on new bells and whistles and selling as many services to as many people as they can…because that generates profits.