In my last post, I started a series called The Parenting Tech Toolbox in which I included a Technology Safety Checklist for caregivers to use to ensure every last device, service, and app is set up for safety. Today we are going to look at the next few tools in my Tech Toolbox – the Protect Young Eyes website and the Barkomatic tool. These two resources provide all the information you need to setup Parental Controls and Child Safety Settings on almost all devices, services and apps.
The Protect Young Eyes website is a goldmine of information! The pages I use most often are the device page and the app page. The device page houses instructions on how to setup Parental Controls on all electronic devices – TVs, computers, gaming consoles, tablets and phones. Honestly, I haven’t come across anything I needed that wasn’t listed.
For instance, the device page links to setup instructions for Family Settings on Windows computers. We have these enabled on all of our home computers and our Xbox. Each child signs in with his or her own account that can be used on our computers and the Xbox. Not only do the settings filter content by age, but they also limit screen time. Gone are the days of yelling upstairs, “It’s time to get off the Xbox!” Now, when their hour is up, their account simply shuts them out. Problem solved!
The app page of the Protect Young Eyes website has a list of countless apps with in-depth explanations, screenshots, and absolutely everything a parent needs to know. This site even reports about the kinds of ads a child might see within an app. I ended up purchasing the paid version of a game for one on my tweens because while the game itself seemed safe enough, the ads it showed were not something I wanted my son to see. I spent a few dollars and avoided inappropriate content. If I had relied only on the App Store description, I would have never known about the questionable ads, and my 12 year old would have been exposed to sexualized content. That is just a small example of how the Protect Young Eyes website has helped us in the past. It is truly a phenomenal resource!
Bark is an awesome filtering and reporting service for computers and mobile devices, and they have come out with an ingenious tool to help narrow down the instructions you need to setup Parental Controls on your children’s and teens’ devices. I will be writing about their primary service in my next post, but wanted to include the Barkomatic here because it offers some similar information as Protect Young Eyes, but in a different format.
If you look over the Tech Safety Checklist for Kids and feel overwhelmed, then the Barkomatic may be just what you need! It’s a free tool in which you answer a handful of multiple choice questions, and in, it turn provides you with a detailed report full of instructions on how to configure safety settings on each of your specific devices. You will answer questions like which kind of phone your teen has, which streaming services she uses, and so on. The Barkomatic is great because you don’t have to rely on yourself to think through all of the different pathways to the Internet your child has – the Barkomatic thinks of them for you.
Armed with the Tech Safety Checklist, Protect Young Eyes and Barkomatic, you should be able to begin the process of locking down your family’s devices and services to age appropriate levels. There is definitely a lot to keep up with, and it is rapidly changing, so thankfully we can partner with the folks at Protect Young Eyes and Bark to keep our kids and teens safe. They are committed to helping families navigate the current technological landscape, so following them on social media or subscribing to their newsletters will keep you up to date on new changes as they occur.
Stay tuned for my next post in this series where I’ll highlight a service that has alerted me to multiple issues and become a true partner with me in managing technology at our house.