Staying safe online can be easier said than done. From creating strong passwords to developing proper cyber security habits, it can seem like a daunting task to keep your kids safe online. Thankfully, multiple family tech safety gadgets exist to help us all stay safe and enjoy the web.
Let’s get into a few of my favorite gadgets for keeping you and your family safe online.
Family Tech Safety Gadgets
WiFi Parental Controls
You likely know you can set parental controls for your smart TV and mobile devices. But did you know you can also set controls for your home WiFi?
Circle is a solution that helps parents monitor kids online activities and set boundaries. The parental controls allow you to monitor screen time and all the apps/websites your child accesses. With the ability to set rules for home-based and mobile devices you are covered no matter where you or your child go.
The ease of use is a key benefit of Circle. Parents can use one app to set screen time limits, manage access to specific online sites, such as social media, and filter content. The app’s UI is intuitive and easy to use right from the start.
The only issue I have with Circle is that it requires a subscription. A 1-year subscription is $129, so if you have young kids and envision using this for years to come it could get expensive. Circle seems to have a solution for this. They offer a lifetime subscription for $299. While it’s more upfront, if you use the app for more than 2 years it’s a net gain.
I don’t think any young child needs a full-blown smartwatch. They probably don’t even need a smartphone (though substitutes are available). However, a kid-friendly smartwatch with basic functionality can be helpful. Kid-friendly watches have been designed that allow for GPS tracking, messaging, calls, and WiFi. Some even have a camera if that is something important to you.
These smartwatches are a good alternative to a smartphone, which many kids don’t need and many parents don’t want to drop the bucks on. The watch ensures that you and your child remain in contact, but doesn’t open up the world like a smartphone or more advanced watch would. Ideally, these entry level smartwatches are designed for kids age 4-12, so this probably isn’t something you’d get your teenager.
Family Safety Apps
How many of the parents reading this don’t have a smartphone? I’d imagine not too many hands going up. Smartphones permeate our daily lives unlike anything else. While downsides do exist to the high-frequency with which we use our phones, upsides do exist. Enter family safety apps.
Apps, such as Life360, allow family members to form their own group (Circle in Life360 lingo). Family groups allow for chat features, the ability to share location and check crime reports in a specific area. Advanced apps even allow for driver safety features such as roadside assistance and emergency response. These features can be especially helpful for parents who have a teenager jumping behind the wheel for the first time.
Other apps, such as Picniic, add in additional features such as event management. With the ability to create and update calendars no one in the family (you too, dad) will have an excuse to miss an event. Picniic is also fun since it allows members to share news and photos. It’s more private than a social media account such as Facebook which is appealing to many parents.
As frequent readers of our blog know many family tech safety gadgets exist and come in various forms. I’m a fan of using gadgets, apps, and whatever else I can find since I know I can’t be everywhere at once. Technology can help protect families from an exciting, but occasionally dangerous, world wide web. At the end of the day, it’s not my family’s behavior that I’m truly worried about. It’s the bad actors out in the wild who will do whatever it takes to make a buck, steal data, or some other nefarious activity. it is against those threats that I use tech to defend myself and my family. Of course, knowing where a teenager is and being able to summon roadside assistance if they need help is also a welcome peace of mind!