Should You Talk to Your Teen About Parental Control Software?

Through their computers, smartphones, and tablets, your teens have access to a plethora of great information sources from all over the world. It’s easier than it ever has been to do in-depth research for a school project or pursue hobbies that are obscure or unavailable in your local area. And of course, the internet is how teens communicate with their friends — and much of that communication is normal and healthy. Still, the internet also carries risks. Your teen could be the target of cyberbullying, or be exposed to adult material that you’d rather them not see. They could also be targeted by predators. Parental control software can help keep your teen safe from some of these internet pitfalls. Following are some tips for talking to your teens about using this software.

Be Honest

The internet is a useful tool for teens. You can help them use it safely.

You may be wondering if you can simply download monitoring software onto your teen’s device without telling them. Let’s face it — telling your teen that you’re going to be watching their internet activity is sure to be a difficult conversation. Why have it if you don’t have to?

But there are some important reasons to be upfront with your child. First of all, there’s a good chance that your teen is more tech-savvy than you. Chances are that the software won’t stay a secret for long. You don’t want them to find the software on their own later. They’ll feel betrayed and violated, and they’ll have a point. Installing the software is you being a parent and setting a boundary. Your teen may not like it, but they’ll respect that. Secretly installing the software is spying, which is a lot more difficult to respect.

Framing Matters

Your child can still have fun and socialize online with parental controls in place.

There are different ways to approach the situation with your teen, and the framing you use can make a big difference. Your teen is likely to perceive the installation of parental control software as you showing a lack of trust in them. And if you’re installing it as a response to a poor choice your teen made, you may be thinking of it that way yourself.

But the truth is, the purpose of this software is to protect your teen from other people in the virtual world. Your teen may make bad choices as a part of growing up, and that’s normal. It doesn’t mean that you lose all faith in them. However, you definitely do want to protect them from people who would take advantage of their imperfect decision making skills or impulsiveness. So let them know that this isn’t a punishment, and that you do trust them. It’s the strangers on the internet that you don’t trust, and for good reason.

Stick To Your Decision

Some teens will be relieved that you’re keeping an eye on their internet activities — especially if they’ve had bad experiences online already. Some will simply take it in stride. And some teens will raise every possible objection, become angry and defensive, or try to argue you out of your decision. Which way your teen reacts probably has more to do with their own personality than with anything you have or haven’t done.

However your teen reacts, it’s important to stand your ground. Reiterate that you’re doing this for their protection, and as the parent, you get to decide how best to protect them. Your teen will adjust in time. Your job is to remain calm and follow through on your decision.

To find out more about how parental control software can help you protect your teen online, sign up for our Free Trial (click here).