As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and that adage has never rung so true when it comes to protecting your kids in this digital age in which we live. Even before the onset of a global pandemic, digital citizenship has become a dominant theme for parents wanting to keep their children safe and secure on the web. Being the father of two young children myself, there is a constant voice in the back of my mind that leaves me wondering if I’m doing enough to monitor my kids’ online activity. While it is easy to fall into the trap of not wanting to lord over your kids like a digital dictator, the responsibility of teaching them good digital habits falls on us, the parents. Part of that has to involve some form of accountability and that’s where online parental monitoring tools come into play.
Admittedly, I do not drill down into the finer details of my kids’ web browsing time but I have their computers fairly well locked down. They can only visit sites that I allow and they can’t install applications unless I approve them. That said, this solution only works if all of your devices exist in the same ecosystem. My children also do not have cell phones at this point so their screen time is limited to the television and their Chromebooks. For many families, however, this is not the case.
According to a recent study, more than 50% of children age 11 have their own cell phone and online video consumption among teens and pre-teens has nearly doubled in the past four years. That’s not to mention the increased screen time for gaming, web browsing, and the plethora of messaging platforms that exploded during the COVID-19 era. So, how do you manage all of the online time while monitoring online activity, implementing downtime, filtering apps, all while teaching your kids to be responsible digital citizens? Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer but there are tools available that can aid you in your task and help you manage all of your devices.
If you live inside the Google or Apple ecosystems, you could probably default to the in-house options that offer a handful of tools for keeping your children safe online. I have used Family Link ever since my kids picked up their first Chromebook and it works much better than the supervised user platform that preceded it. The problem with Family Link, like Apple’s Screen Time, is the fact that it isn’t truly cross-platform. Yes, you can use Google’s parental monitoring tools on an iPhone but your only control for non-Chrome OS PCs comes in the form of the Chrome browser. There is no way to monitor or manage applications or other web browsers on Windows or macOS. On top of that, the features offered by Family Link are relatively linear. You don’t get much in the way of actually “monitoring” online use. The free tool is designed more to be a gatekeeper than a hall monitor.
There are a few third-party tools that offer cross-platform support but most of them focus on one specific area like apps or web browsing. Few give parents the ability to monitor web traffic, manage screen time, and offer up the ability to police social media applications. Mobicip has often been the go-to for many families because it features that cross-platform support that includes Chrome OS devices. However, the Chromebook feature for Mobicip is somewhat lacking and somewhat easily bypassed by more inquisitive youngsters. Qustodio has emerged as the other big name in parental control software and this week, the company has announced full integration for Chromebooks.
Qustodio has long offered parental control software for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Kindle with an extensive suite of granular controls. These tools allow parents to go way beyond the basic restrictions allowed by platforms such as Family Link. Along with smart filters to keep the kids away from danger, parents have access to a full view of their child’s day. This is very important when teaching your kids how to responsibly manage their time online. You get a full snapshot of how much time is being spent on social networks as well as access to your child’s text messages and call records.
Chromebook growth statistics
- The global demand for Chromebooks has multiplied 4x during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- More than 30% of parents have purchased a new device due to the pandemic and 7 out of 10 families use new educational software at this time.
- The use of educational applications increased 50% in the last week of January 2021 compared to the same period of the previous year.
Qustodio goes even further with tools to keep your children physically safe. The Android and iOS app both support location tracking and Android app users have access to the Panic Button. This tool places a panic button on the child’s device that, when pressed, will send an SOS alert to anyone on the emergency contact list. The Panic Button is easily set up via the Qustodio Family Portal and is a great way to add an entirely new level of security to your child’s mobile device. Check out this video for a closer look at how Qustodio stacks up next to the free options from Google and Apple.
With the addition of Chromebooks to the Qustodio ecosystem, the platform is now one of the most well-rounded options available. As more and more students are learning from home and Chromebook adoption has skyrocketed, it couldn’t have come at a better time. The global pandemic has forever altered the way we use and manage our devices. Online safety and security are some of the most important things that we can teach our kids and Qustodio makes that job a whole lot easier.
So, what’s the price for this kind of security? I have to be honest, I expected Qustodio to be no less than $100/month for a few devices but that’s not the case. As a matter of fact, you can protect one device with basic protection absolutely free. For 5 devices of your choice, the annual fee is only $54.95 or you can bump up to 10 devices for $96.95. That’s as little as $4.58/month to ensure that your child stays safe online and learns to manage screen time responsibly. For our readers, Qustodio is graciously offering a 20% discount off of your first year’s purchase when you use the promo code UNBOXED20. That discount will net you protection for 10 devices for only $78 and that’s money well spent. This offer is only good through February 21st so don’t miss out on this hefty discount.
Installing Qustodio for Chromebooks
Next, select the profile for the child that will be using the Chromebook. If you have more than one child using the device, you can repeat these steps for each profile. Then, you will need to give Qustodio access permission to monitor app activity on the device. Once you have activated permissions and administrator you’re all set to move on to step two.
Now you need to install the Qustodio Chrome Extension. This will add protection and monitoring tools for the Chrome browser. At the completion of the Android app installation, you should be given a link to the extension in the Chrome Web Store. If you have already closed out the app, no worries. You can find the Chrome extension here. Add the extension to Chrome and when prompted, click the “connect” button. A popup will appear prompting you to open the Qustodio Kids App. Click “open” to connect the two applications and you’re all set. Now your device is fully protected. You can find the full setup and installation process here.
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