By Regina Miller
Q: I turned on Parental Controls through our wireless carrier and I am finding that my son is still able to download apps that he’s not allowed to and even use the phone to contact people that we’ve forbidden. Do parental controls even work?
A: A common mistake I see when using parental controls is completing the job. In addition to turning on parental controls with the carrier and configuring them correctly, you should also turn on parental controls the child’s phone and tablet too. If you don’t, the child can easily turn on off the carrier parental controls and even turn on parental controls for the device itself, in essence, locking you out from making changes. The next layer of parental controls comes into play on your home network. Many routers have parental controls so you can configure even farther. This is an important step since many children are very adept at selecting wireless or cellular signal to skirt whatever restrictions are in place. I would suggest even if you have enabled parental controls, you check your child’s device and make sure the PIN that you think unlocks it actually does. I have seen kids show their parents that yes, the parental controls are in place, but then discover the kid themselves set it so they could undo whatever the parent has set up. While no parental controls work 100 percent, you will do better to at least have them enabled on your carrier, your child’s devices, and your home network. Just as important as enabling them is configuring them properly. If you aren’t sure what all that entails, hire a professional to help you out. I know I am always relieved when I am able to help a parent put those safety measures in place. In addition configured parental controls, I strongly suggest password audits for your minor child’s phones AND accounts. I know many people argue that children need to have a phone for safety reasons these days but there are still a lot of options that are not smartphones that will do the job.