As parents, we naturally want to protect our children, and this includes keeping kids safe online while still allowing them to explore, learn and connect.

With so many parental control solutions out there, it can be tempting to just enable the strictest settings and lock everything down. But is this the right thing to do?

Evidence suggests taking a customized approach for each child can help balance safety and independence as they grow, yet continuing to be that important safety net.

keeping child safe online
You can’t always be able to watch your children online

What dangers are there online for children?

So what are we worried about as parents? Well there are several dangers that children may face online, and some social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok can expose children to cyberbullying, inappropriate content, and online predators.

Some of the things to be aware of include:

Cyberbullying: Children may experience harassment, insults, or threats from others online, which can cause emotional distress and negatively impact their self-esteem. Apps like Whisper or Yolo allow users to send anonymous messages

Inappropriate content: Children can come across explicit or age-inappropriate content such as violence, pornography, or drug use, which can have harmful effects on their development and well-being. Streaming sites like or Bigo Live could allow the kids to see something unexpected. But even Facebook and TikTok have live streaming functionality which is unregulated.

Online predators: There are individuals who may try to groom or exploit children by pretending to be someone else online, gaining their trust, and engaging in inappropriate conversations or behaviour. Kik or WhatsApp could allow strangers to send message and start conversations. Snapchat has functionality to find people close by.

Phishing and scams: Children can fall victim to scams or phishing attempts, where they may unknowingly provide personal information or financial details to scammers posing as legitimate entities. The is common with Roblox and Fortnite where the account can be valuable.

Privacy concerns: Children may unknowingly share personal information online, which can be used by others for identity theft or to target them for malicious purposes.

Addiction and excessive screen time: Spending excessive time online can lead to addiction and have negative effects on children’s physical and mental health, including sleep disturbances, poor academic performance, and social isolation. And this is actually more common with gaming were time can fly by.

It is crucial for parents and guardians to educate children about these dangers, establish guidelines for safe internet use, and maintain open communication to ensure their online safety. Simply putting your children in a protective bubble from these dangers isn’t enough; education and protection should be run in tandem and it’s a very useful life skill for their adult future.

It’s also essential to encourage calm open dialogue and talk to your kids openly about both online and offline dangers. The more your kids hide from you as they are too scared to raise concerns or ask questions, the more likely things will happen without your knowledge. And do look out for behaviour changes with anger and emotion linked to trauma. especially if they become withdrawn or distant, start eating poorly and losing weight, or having nightmares.

Yes, there is debate on when we should start preparing our children for the real world, with an argument about letting our kids be kids without fears or worries. Again, studies into the benefits of a happy childhood result in better midlife functioning and wellbeing. But our job as parents is to teach our kids how to handle adult life too.

call of duty rating

Mobile games should have the certificate for appropriate age levels

Consider Age, Maturity Levels and Responsibility

The appropriateness of certain content and the level of oversight required can vary widely depending on a child’s age, maturity, and individual sense of responsibility.

It’s not a one-size-fits-all situation: a platform or game that’s suitable for a 13-year-old is likely entirely inappropriate for an 8-year-old.

Consider the statistics: a survey revealed that a significant 77% of parents employ parental controls for children aged 5 to 11, but this figure drops to 59.5% for adolescents between 12 to 17 years old.

This trend suggests that as children grow, the reins are gradually loosened. But with an older child, there are still things to protect from. And for all age groups, education and understanding should be run alongside any blanket control.

So it’s crucial to base this easing of restrictions not solely on age but also on how responsibly a child behaves online and how well they understand the potential risks and red flags.

For the younger or less mature child, it may be necessary to maintain a tighter grip on content restrictions and to monitor their activities more closely. Until they are at a stage where clear discussions can, and should, be had.

This could mean using tools that limit screen time, filter out inappropriate content, and provide reports on the child’s online activities for review.

On the other hand, an older teenager who has consistently demonstrated good judgment online might be granted more autonomy. Particularly if they are aware of the dangers or negative influences they may be exposed to, and the warning signs of what might occur.

This could include fewer content filters and more self-regulated screen time, reflecting the trust they’ve earned. Such freedom, however, should always be accompanied by ongoing dialogues about internet safety and the reasons behind the established boundaries.

Either way, unobtrusive monitoring of computers and devices is best for building mutual trust and keeping your children safe.

child sees something scary on internet

Address Personal Issues and Special Needs

In an age where children’s online experiences can deeply impact their development and well-being, it’s essential to consider how individual needs, including special requirements or personal challenges, should shape the way you implement parental controls.

For instance, a child grappling with addictive behaviours may require a more stringent approach to content filtering. This should also apply if yourself or partner have addictive patterns, as genetically and environmental this can be passed on.

And addiction doesn’t mean just substance abuse, but how we fill our alone time. TV, gaming, sports all should be enjoyed in moderation.

Startling statistics underscore the urgency of this issue. A research initiative conducted by Dignify, an organization dedicated to studying sexual abuse, surveyed 4,000 adolescents aged 14 to 18 in Hertfordshire. The findings revealed that 22% of the students had repeatedly viewed pornographic material.

Within this group, 20% acknowledged having habitual porn consumption, and 10% reported feelings of addiction to pornography. And this has a big impact on how sexual relationships are perceived as normal.

For those at risk of addiction, parents might need to take proactive measures, such as using specialized filters that block not only explicit content but also potentially triggering material related to any form of addiction.

Children facing mental health challenges, like anxiety, could also stand to benefit from a customized set of controls. The constant connectivity and social pressures of platforms like Instagram and TikTok can sometimes exacerbate anxiety symptoms.

In such cases, it might be prudent to limit social media usage with time controls, or to create ‘safe lists’ of apps and websites that promote relaxation and calmness, steering clear of those that may contribute to stress or anxious feelings.

The process of determining the most supportive restrictions often requires collaboration. Engaging with mental health professionals can provide valuable insight into the types of controls that might benefit a child’s specific situation.

Moreover, involving your child in these discussions is crucial. It empowers them and helps them understand that these measures are in place to support, not punish them.

child on device at night
Younger children should learn self control on iPad screen time

Set Schedules Based on Activities and Temperament

Establishing time limits and online schedules for your child is not just about imposing restrictions; it’s about creating a balanced digital diet that complements their daily activities, caters to their need for adequate rest, and aligns with their unique personality.

Firstly, take into account your child’s routine and obligations. If they have a packed schedule with school, homework, and extracurriculars, your time limits on devices should ensure that they can engage in these activities without unnecessary digital distractions.

Consider designating specific online windows that allow for relaxation and entertainment post-study or activity time, thus promoting a healthy work-play balance.

Observe your child’s behaviour in response to screen time. Some children may exhibit signs of irritability or anxiety after prolonged periods online. This is a clear indicator that it’s time to tailor their digital exposure.

Implement app-specific time caps to discourage overuse and to encourage them to pursue a variety of activities that don’t involve screens.

These caps can be adjusted based on your child’s reactions, fostering a more harmonious online experience that prioritizes their emotional well-being.

For the adolescent who naturally gravitates towards late-night hours, known colloquially as the ‘night owl,’ sleep patterns can be disrupted by the lure of the screen’s glow.

Enforcing a device curfew can help. By setting a ‘downtime’ period that begins before bedtime, you encourage healthier sleep habits.

This not only aids in their physical growth and mental health but also ensures they are rested and ready for the next day’s challenges.

In addition to these strategies, it’s valuable to incorporate your child’s temperament into the scheduling decisions.

A child who is naturally more self-regulated may require less stringent controls compared to one who is impulsive.

By customizing schedules to fit your child’s disposition, you provide them with a framework that supports self-discipline and encourages them to make conscientious choices about their time online.

child on mobile phone
Mobile browsing off the home internet needs consideration

Balance Custom Settings with Shared Family Rules

Managing the digital landscape for multiple children can be complex, but uniformity in certain rules and settings can simplify the process significantly.

Consider implementing fundamental guidelines that apply to all your children, regardless of their age differences.

This not only eases the oversight responsibilities for you as a parent but also instils a clear and consistent standard of what is acceptable within your household.

For instance, a non-negotiable rule might be the blanket restriction of explicit content, such as pornography, and overtly violent material.

By setting these boundaries universally, you remove ambiguity and create a safe online environment for your entire family.

Utilizing parental controls to enforce these restrictions across all devices helps ensure that these standards are upheld consistently.

These family-wide rules serve a dual purpose.

While they protect your children from harmful content, they also lay the groundwork for teaching them about the importance of making wise choices.

By observing and understanding the rationale behind these shared rules, children can develop an internal compass that guides their future interactions with digital content.

Moreover, a shared approach to digital rules can promote a sense of fairness and inclusivity among siblings, reducing feelings of resentment that might arise from individualized restrictions. It can also foster family discussions about online safety and ethics, contributing to a culture of open communication and collective responsibility.

Parental Control on internet
Flexible parental control on the internet is highly beneficial alongside a tailored educational approach for laptop and mobile use.

Utilize Flexible Parental Control Solutions

Parental control solutions like Salfeld Child Control allow you to go deep and get personal with the settings which is essential to keeping kids safe online with flexibility.

Time limits, app restrictions and content filtering can be fully customized for each device or enforced on multiple devices.


The digital world presents many potential benefits as well as real risks for kids today. Take the time to configure parental controls that balance your child’s needs, maturity level and personal issues.

With your thoughtful involvement, kids can explore the digital world while developing self-regulation that will serve them well into adulthood.