What are parental controls?

Parental control tools help parents monitor and limit what their children do online. There are many tools available and they all offer different functions, with some even allowing parents to limit the time children spend on specific websites or games.

No tool is 100 per cent effective at blocking access to inappropriate content. They are a good tool to encourage communication with children about their online activities. Currently there are more effective tools for use with PCs and Macs than with mobile, tablet devices and game consoles. Additional parental supervision is required with these.  

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What do parental controls do?

Every parental control tool is different. Most tools:
  • can block children from accessing specific websites, protocols or applications
  • filter different kinds of content, like sexual content
  • allow parents to monitor use with reports on sites accessed, the length of time and frequency of access
  • can be used to set time limits, blocking access after a set time—handy if you are not home and want to limit the time your child spends on a game or social media
  • allow parents to change the tool settings to reflect each child’s age and skills.

Do parental controls block all bad stuff?

It is essential to note that no parental control tool is 100 per cent effective. It is important to understand the nature of devices that children are using, and also talk to them about staying safe online and being aware of the behaviours of themselves and others.

Parental control tools tend to be better at blocking ‘adult’ or sexual content than other types of harmful content, such as content that may promote self-harm, eating disorders, violence, drugs, gambling, racism and terrorism. Parental control tools have difficulty filtering content within social media sites and messaging services, including video messaging services like Skype.

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