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Screen Time Control Centre

Reducing Excess Screentime

The key to digital wellbeing is moderation. The Screen Time Control Centre introduces a selection of reliable apps designed to help monitor and limit screen time. For parents concerned about their children's screen habits, these apps offer solutions to ensure a balanced digital lifestyle. They provide real-time data, reminders, and restrictions to ensure screen time remains in check. The following apps ensure that screen time is kept within healthy boundaries.

Tool 1: Family Time

We generally underestimate the role of social vulnerabilities, which have a major impact on the relationship with screens.

Indeed, not all children and adolescents are placed in equivalent family, cultural and social contexts and the consequences of the misuse of screens appear all the more serious when the child is in a vulnerable situation: the absence or insecurity of employment, material difficulties of the family, too great a distance to educational, social or medical services, an impoverished cultural context, are all factors that can make it difficult, even inaccessible, to understand the digital world, to educate about the uses of screens, to develop a critical distance and to achieve the necessary self-regulation.

For several years, the city of Saint Denis and the IRI have been working with parents whose children suffer from disorders due to their early overexposure to screens.

Positives of the Tool:

It provides good monitoring of YouTube and TikTok usage, which can be especially useful given the popularity of these platforms among children.

The app allows parents to track their child's location and set up geofenced areas, receiving alerts when the child enters or leaves these zones.

Parents can block specific apps and set daily limits on app usage, helping to manage screen time effectively.

Family Time includes a Panic Button and PickMeUp alerts, which can be used by children to notify their parents in case of an emergency.

Negatives of the Tool:

The app does not offer comprehensive social media monitoring, which could be a limitation for parents wanting to monitor all online activities.

The filtering options for web content are somewhat basic, with limited categories and effectiveness.

Technical Issues and Performance: Some users have reported technical issues and inconsistencies in the app's performance, which can be a drawback for reliable monitoring.

Certain features are not available on all operating systems. For instance, some functionalities like daily time limits are available only on Android, not on iOS

Tool 2: Qustodio

Qustodio is a robust parental control software designed to assist parents in overseeing and regulating their children's digital behaviour across a wide array of devices and online platforms. It encompasses a variety of features aimed at fostering responsible device usage and safeguarding children from potentially harmful content. Key functionalities include the management of screen time, enabling parents to set daily or weekly limits on device use, and content filtering, which allows for the blocking of inappropriate websites and apps.

Beyond these capabilities, Qustodio provides detailed insights into children's online activities, offering reports on the most frequently used apps and internet browsing history. This helps parents understand their children's digital preferences and potential risks they may encounter online. Additionally, the app includes social media monitoring, location tracking, and the ability to set time restrictions on specific apps or games. By providing these comprehensive tools, Qustodio aims to support parents in promoting a healthy balance between digital engagement and other aspects of life, while ensuring the online safety of their children.

Pros for Qustodio:

Qustodio is compatible with a wide range of devices and operating systems, including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS, providing comprehensive coverage for families with diverse device preferences.

Parents can tailor screen time limits, app usage restrictions, and content filters based on their children's age, interests, and individual needs, allowing for personalised and flexible management.

Qustodio offers detailed activity reports, allowing parents to track their children's online behaviour, including website visits, app usage, and social media activity, fostering open communication and awareness.

Qustodio includes features like a panic button and SOS alerts, enabling children to quickly notify their parents of emergencies or distressing situations, enhancing safety and peace of mind.

Cons for Qustodio:

Qustodio's premium features are subscription-based, with pricing tiers based on the number of devices and additional functionalities desired, potentially leading to higher costs for families with multiple devices or specific needs.

While Qustodio supports a wide range of devices, some features may be limited or unavailable on certain platforms or operating systems, reducing consistency and effectiveness across devices.

Running Qustodio in the background may consume system resources and impact device performance, potentially leading to slower device operation or reduced battery life.

Tech-savvy children may find ways to bypass or circumvent Qustodio's controls, undermining the app's effectiveness in managing screen time and enforcing parental restrictions.

Tool 3: Google Family Link

Family Link is Google's solution designed to give parents oversight and control over their children's digital life. It facilitates the monitoring of app usage, management of screen time, and setting of digital ground rules to help guide kids through the online world on Android and iOS devices. Family Link allows parents to approve or block apps their children want to download from the Google Play Store, view their app activity to see how much time is being spent on each app, and manage in-app purchases by setting restrictions or requiring approval.

In addition to app management, Family Link provides features for tracking the location of children's devices, offering peace of mind about their whereabouts. The service extends its functionality by enabling parents to set device bedtime, ensuring children are not using their devices when they should be sleeping, studying, or engaging in offline activities. Through the use of Family Link, Google aims to support families in navigating the complexities of technology, making it easier to introduce healthy digital habits and protect children from inappropriate content.

Although Family Link is a Google product, it is also available on iPhones running iOS 11 and higher.

Pros of Family Link:

Screen time management offers parents an effective way of regulating their children's use of devices, promoting a healthy balance between time spent online and other activities.

Application control allows parents to specifically approve or block certain applications, ensuring access to age-appropriate content.

The real-time location function offers peace of mind to parents, letting them know where their child is, and facilitating recovery if the phone is lost.

Cons of Google Family Link:

Some users have expressed concerns about the complexity of the application's settings and configuration, which can make its initial use a little confusing.

The strict control over content can sometimes be excessive, leading to unnecessary blocking or limitations that don't always correspond to the specific needs of each family.

Family Link's availability is limited to certain regions, which can be a limitation for families living outside these areas.

Tool 4: OurPact

OurPact is geared towards creating a balanced digital environment where children can learn to use technology responsibly under the guidance of their parents. Its user-friendly interface and robust set of features make it a popular choice for families looking to navigate the challenges of raising digitally savvy children in a safe and controlled manner.

OurPact combines several key features to help parents manage their children's use of digital devices. It enables parents to block specific apps or to only allow device use during certain times, ensuring children stay focused on tasks like homework or sleep without the distraction of their devices. The app also allows parents to set daily limits on screen time, giving children the opportunity to learn self-regulation within those parameters.

For online safety, OurPact offers the ability to filter out inappropriate websites, keeping children away from harmful content. The family locator feature, which includes both location tracking and geofencing, keeps parents informed of their children's whereabouts and alerts them if their children enter or exit set geographic areas. Additionally, parents can motivate positive behaviour by rewarding children with extra screen time through the app. Remote device management is another convenient feature, as it lets parents adjust their child’s device settings from their own phone or a web app, making it easy to change controls as necessary.

Pros to OurPact:

OurPact offers a wide range of features, including app blocking, screen time management, and website filtering, giving parents thorough control over their children's device use.

The family locator function, with location tracking and geofencing, provides parents peace of mind by knowing their children’s whereabouts and receiving alerts if they enter or leave designated areas.

OurPact is designed with a straightforward and intuitive interface, making it user-friendly for parents to set up and manage controls without technical hassle.

Cons to OurPact:

Compatibility Issues: Some users have reported challenges with compatibility, especially when managing devices across different operating systems or when updates are involved.

Limited Social Media Monitoring: While OurPact excels at app and website control, its capabilities to monitor social media interactions directly are limited compared to some other parental control apps.

Subscription Cost: While OurPact offers valuable features, the subscription model can be a con for some families. The cost may add up over time, especially for families looking to monitor multiple devices.

Tool 5: Kaspersky Safe Kids

Kaspersky Safe Kids is a parental control software, designed to help parents protect their children from online risks, manage their digital habits, and ensure their safety on both the internet and in the real world. The software is compatible with multiple platforms, including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS, allowing for comprehensive coverage across all family devices.

Kaspersky Safe Kids features content filtering to block access to unsuitable online content and app management to restrict the use of certain apps. 

The software also allows parents to set screen time limits and schedules, encouraging a balance between digital and offline activities.

With social network monitoring, it helps protect against cyberbullying and online risks. Location tracking, including GPS and geofencing, keeps parents informed of their children's whereabouts, while battery level monitoring ensures devices are charged and communication remains open. Kaspersky Safe Kids offers a streamlined approach to managing and safeguarding children's digital experiences.

Pros for Kaspersky Safe Kids:

Kaspersky Safe Kids effectively blocks inappropriate content, including adult and alcohol-related websites, offering strong protection for children online​​.

The app provides detailed monitoring and control over app usage on Android devices, with features like age-restriction blocking and category management. However, app management is notably limited on iOS devices​​.

Kaspersky Safe Kids offers precise location tracking and notifies parents if their child enters or leaves set safe zones, also indicating the child's device battery life for added safety.

Cons for Kaspersky Safe Kids:

Complex Interface: Some users may find the interface and setup process to be complex and less intuitive, especially when configuring detailed settings across multiple devices.

Limited Social Media Monitoring: While it provides some level of social network monitoring, it may not cover all aspects of children's online interactions, potentially missing certain risks or exposures.

Performance Impact: On some devices, especially older models, Kaspersky Safe Kids can impact device performance, leading to slower operation or decreased battery life.

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