The rise of the internet and the evolution of technology means that we now live in the digital era. As technology has progressed, human behavior has adapted giving rise to digital parenting where parents monitor their children’s online activity and set restrictions like block outgoing calls and texts to protect them.
The world is connected more than ever across global boundaries through social media platforms, video and text messaging apps made possible by the use of mobile phones and computers. With an estimated 6.5 billion (and rising) smartphone users, the digital era is here to stay and evolve.
Why is it important to put restrictions on your child’s phone?
In the 21st century, phones are becoming an essential part of a child’s life as they are used as educational tools, for online viewing and as a device for them to connected to family and friends.
However, with access to smartphones and subsequently the internet, your child is exposed to many dangers online that can be detrimental to them.The internet can be a dangerous place which risks the online safety of your child.
While online, a child can face these potential dangers:
- Cyberbullying by harassment or threatening on digital platforms such as text messages, forums, emails and social media platforms.
- Catfishing where someone is lured into an online friendship / relationship using a fake identity. This person can dupe them into sending money or sharing personally identifiable information
- Inappropriate content e.g. pornography, violence, drugs and strong language.
- Predators who can groom, abuse, exploit and coerce children to participate in illegal activities.
- Phone overuse that can lead to decreased cognitive functioning, learning and even addiction. In addition, increased social media use can be problematic resulting in mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and insomnia.
- Online scams where hackers can send emails and fake links which when accessed installs ransomware / malware on the device to gain access to private information.
These and more dangers is the reason why parents should take serious actions towards online safety for their child and take steps towards putting restrictions on the their child’s phone. Taking actions like blocking outgoing calls and texts ensures that your child is avoids contact with unwanted people.
Phone and text restrictions
Besides putting restrictions on internet usage, its also important for a parent to put some restrictions and block calls and text messages as well. This helps protect your child and ensures their safety online.
As a parent you can either block outgoing calls and text messages or block incoming calls and text messages or do both depending on what you deem necessary.
Block outgoing calls and text messages
Sometimes your child may try to contact people, with whom you as a parent, do not want them to have contact with. This unwanted contact can be with specific risky individuals, outgoing international calls and SMS, unknown /unlisted numbers and message service numbers.
This can be handled by blocking outgoing calls and text messages through creating an allowed list of the contacts that can be contacted.
Block incoming calls and text messages
In equal measure, as a parent you can also block incoming calls and text messages. These can be unknown people who may try to contact your child with not that good intentions or known people who are bad influences, harassing or bullying your child.
By blocking incoming calls and text messages you can protect your child from those who wish to harm them and limit contact.
To take it a step further, parental control apps like MMGuardian assist parents to set app control and time limits so that children can limit daily usage and define when phones should be used. This helps reduce excessive phone use and allows your child to do other activities like homework and sleep away from the phone.
What children need to keep in mind
Digital parenting comes with two major responsibilities:
- Keeping an eye out, monitor and control your child’s online activities. Parents can do this through restrictions such as block outgoing calls and texts, GPS location and tracking, SMS texts and messages monitoring and web filtering.
- Teaching your child responsible phone and internet usage in regard to time utilization, language, behavior and etiquette. Whats more, its important for a parent to educate their child on the possible dangers of the internets and what suspicious behaivour to look out for.
Besides putting safeguards such as restrictions, here are a few things that can parents can explain to their children on what to keep in mind when online:
- Don’t answer any calls or messages from numbers you don’t recognize.
- Never click on a link or attachment in a spam text message or email because it could trigger malware or ransomware.
- Never respond to a spam text message, as it will confirm that the number is valid.
- Under no circumstances should you share any personal information online e.g. number, school, home address, social media accounts, email address, parent or guardian’s credit card or bank information.
- Be aware of online offers that sound too good to be true such as winning an unexpected large sum of money or providing personal information to redeem prizes.
- Keep in mind when posting personal content like pictures and opinions shared online as they can’t be deleted and can have consequences in the future.
- Maintain your IRL safety by never sharing your live geographical location online.
- Report any suspicious behavior or content to a parent or guardian
Parents have a responsibility to both protect their children’s safety online and equally educate them on positive online behavior and help them have an awareness of the advantages and dangers that digital technology offers.
How to block calls and messages
Worried that your child’s phone is prey for people with ill intentions and can be used to potentially harm them? We understand, which is why, we recommend the use of technology to monitor and ensure your child’s safety online.
In order to block incoming and outgoing calls and texts, we recommend using the following tools and settings;
- Message monitoring of social media and text messages
- Sending safety alerts for actions such as inappropriate messages, ew app install, call block, location updates and attempts to view a blocked website.
- Comprehensive reports on messages, browsing and phone activity
- Web filter and safe browsing
- Time limits so phones are used during defined times
- App control which set daily limit usage
- Location and GPS tracking
And importantly offers CALL AND SMS BLOCKING.
With MMGuardian’s Contact Block, parents can either set a block list for specific numbers and contacts or create a list of allowed numbers and contacts for their child’s phone.
|BLOCK MODE||ALLOW MODE|
|When set in block mode, calls and text messages with numbers that are on the block list will be blocked.||When set in allow mode, only calls and text messages with numbers in the allowed list will be permitted and all others will be blocked.|
To block SMS messages it is necessary to set the MMGuardian Parental Control app to be the default messaging app to be used on the phone by your child.
For Android phones running 8 or lower, and Android 10 or higher, it is possible to block both incoming and outgoing calls. Unfortunately blocking calls and text messages is not possible when your child has an iPhone due to how the device’s software works.
From iPhone settings
Working with parental control apps MMGuardian, parents can implement additional safety controls through parental control settings on their child’s iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch that come with the device.
With iPhone parental settings you can;
- Set content & privacy restriction
- Prevent your child from being able to install or delete apps
- Restrict the use of built-in apps or features
- Prevent playback of explicit content such as music, podcasts, and TV shows.
- Automatically filter website content to limit access to adult content
- Limits access to camera apps and photo-sharing
- Restrict Siri web search and Game Center features.
From Android settings
For Android phones, a parent can set up parental controls either for:
- Family members who manage their own Google accounts where different parental controls can be set up for each person using a PIN.
- Or use the Family Link app which is specially designed to help families create healthy digital habits by setting ground rules to guide children and teens as they “they learn, play, and explore online.” The app views phone activity, manages apps, sets screen limits, and locks their device when it’s time for a break.
Additionally, Family Link can run on iPhones and Android and even be managed on a web browser.
Here is how to set up parental controls and restrictions on an Android device.
We can all agree that technology is part of the world we live in today. Smartphones and the internet are essential tools that help children develop skills, improve social interactions and expand their knowledge base. However, the same things can be misused to take advantage of children.
This is part where responsible parenting in the digital age comes in to protect children’s safety online and also instruct them on proper behavior and the dangers of digital technology. Parents can utilize the available phone’s parental control settings and to add an extra layer of security use MMGuardian which comes with a more advanced feature designed to make securing your child’s online safety easier. The ability for a parent to include restrictions such as to block outgoing calls and texts is effortless using this technology.
If you use MMGuardian, you can monitor and set restrictions on your child’s phone and ensure their safety online.
To get started with MMGuardian and receive a 14-day free trial, click here.
Consider also joining our Facebook group “Tech-Savvy Parenting” to discuss raising kids in the 21st century with other parents.