Tamariki and rangatahi can access virtually any content on their devices: they play games, watch series and films on streaming services like Netflix, and videos on YouTube and social media.
But it’s harder for parents and whanau to know what they are experiencing, and children still need to be protected from upsetting and harmful content.
So what can parents do? Online space is not entirely a free-for-all. There are tools available on popular platforms to help.
Apple and Google
Controls for internet content more generally are a little bit more difficult. Spark offers its customers Net Shield, a free internet filtering tool, and Vodafone has a tutorial on how to set up parental controls on their modems. If you're not with Spark or Vodafone, there are lots of other options out there, with software like NetNanny, SafeSurfer, Kaspersky Safe Kids, as well as hardware such as Clean Router.
If you're worried about who your young people are talking to online and what they might be showing them, Facebook has just released Messenger Kids. This is a messaging app designed for parents to supervise who their rangatahi are talking to. It also allows parents to review images and videos that rangatahi have sent and received.
If all of that seems like too much, there are other things that you could try. However, if you want your tamariki and rangitahi to follow these suggestions, they are more likely to do so if you follow them yourself. Like most limitations and rules, they require consistency and communication to build trust with your young people.
Some ideas include:
- No devices in the bedroom (rangitahi will still need a quiet space to do homework if they have it).
- Designated device-free time zones – meal times, during face-to-face discussion – or flip it and have designated device time zones.
- Limit screen time to a certain amount a day (there are apps for this as well).
- No devices 1 hour before bed (whether you have put a blue light filter on or not).
To find out more about online safety in general, have a look at Netsafe's Online Safety Toolkit.
The world of parental controls is pretty complex, with each media platform offering different options for parents to guide their children’s viewing habits. Still, it’s great that parents have these options, and we recommend that parents take the time to work out how parental control options work – it’s worth it.