Yeah, sounds like one of those best of lists for the end of the year. But this tech app is wonderful and easy and just plain nice to have. Let me start at the beginning.
My work as a therapist exposes me to a lot of information about the bad things kids do on the internet. So my kids are pretty protected. We have the family computer in the library where everyone is, none have phones, and we have to approve every website they visit.-before they hit enter. These have been great habits for us until this year. This year, homework has increasingly depended on computer use-researching, writing, and playing games. Yup, our school requires them to play math games. [Which I think is great until I need to write notes or answer emails.]
Enter Grandparents. They want to support the education of their grandkids [and possibly be a bit cool as well] and ask to buy a laptop for the eldest. We agree and as we watch the present open, my head spins with all the terrible, no good, very bad things that may happen because of this gift.
Here is the miracle. Microsoft has developed what seems to me to be a user friendly application that will monitor my child’s online behavior and notify me. The Grandparent [who is also a self taught computer genius] set up a family Microsoft Account and put me and the child on it. Now, when the computer is opened and unlocked, it tells the user that I will know what they are doing. And every so often sends me a list of the websites they visit, the searches they searched, and allows me to set times for them to be off the computer and how long they can play. It is so easy and I can’t believe how intuitive it is!
We still have to have talks about why homework may extend after 10 pm, and why the Urban Dictionary isn’t an appropriate place to find synonyms for a paper, but for now, I am feeling a bit less panicked about the whole thing. If you want information about parental controls , go here. If you would help in determining if a book, movie, or app is right for your family, I go to Common Sense Media and search it for answers. But by all means, don’t sit in a puddle on the floor, scared to do anything. There are actually software geniuses working to help you stay ahead of your kid.
If your child has gotten into something on the internet that is concerning, or if you would like to talk about how to set appropriate boundaries with your child, call us! We love to help parents and caregivers think through their decisions. We don’t know a lot about software, but we do know a bit about kids and families. Call us! 940-222-8703
Christy Graham, LPC S Registered Play Therapist Supervisor is the President and Clinical Director of Acorn Counseling Education. She also has 3 beautiful children and an artist for a husband. She discovered her home while visiting her grandparents as a child and has loved Denton ever since.