Planetary scientists say that an asteroid that collided with earth many thousands of years ago decimated all the dinosaurs and destroyed all evidence of their time on earth. More recently, we have been assaulted by a “virtual asteroid” which has literally wiped out our time, unbeknownst to us. While the power of the internet is undeniable in providing content, know-how and a platform to share experiences, the subtle ways in which it has invaded our lives and minimized face to face interaction among individuals, is unnerving, to say the least.

One such group of people who have been caught unawares, is parents. Initially, children being occupied for periods of time without nagging for attention, seemed like a boon. However, the sight of normally rambunctious little children quietly sitting around glued to their phones rang alarm bells in parents’ minds warning them of an impending disaster of gigantic proportions. 

Parents were quickly up in arms to look for ways to get their children back on track, to focus on their studies and everyday chores. I was one such parent caught in this cat and mouse game. When I found a way to lock my children out of their phones, it was only a matter of time before they outsmarted me. I found that each app that promised parental control had some flaw or the other that the kids could exploit.  My only option was to confiscate the phones and lock them away.  

I installed a highly recommended app called Qustodio on trial mode to check its functionality only to find that my son was able to uninstall it, app, features and all. One parent recommended Kaspersky – a paid app. By this time, I was willing to pay money to keep my children from mental self-destruction, only to find that this app does not work for Oppo phones.  I was at the end of my tether. 

My children, as they grew older, watched me struggle and understood that it was for their good that I was trying to set up an effective method to give them some uninterrupted time for work and digital detox. They then helped me in the search for the tool that they could not trip. Together, we found that the Google Family Link is a very powerful, effective, and free tool.

Google Family Link allows parents to block apps, allow apps for periods of time and to set up bedtime. When bedtime is enforced, the phone can make emergency calls only. Since my children use only android phones, this works well. For iOS users, the native parental control app, which I also used briefly, provides adequate control.

While it is important to control time spent on devices, getting children to understand the need for this control is most important. Children who are 14 years or older have the option to exit the Google family link app. So, forcing parental controls onto children expecting them to comply will only be temporary. Engaging them and ensuring that they understand the need for control is of prime importance.

There may be other apps out there that perform this functionality better or you may have a system that works better to restrict screen time. The important thing is to have enough fun activities lined up to engage children when they are not using their devices. Come on parents, let’s give Tiktok, Youtube, and Instagram some competition by using our creativity in engaging our children and educating them in the process. It is also a great way to spend time and build lasting relationships.


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