The debates about whether children should own smartphones, and if so, at what age, have become a very modern parenting dilemma. There are no ‘right or wrong’ answers to these ‘Big Questions’ about kids and smartphones. The near-universal uptake of smartphones for children, at increasingly younger ages, is a clear indication that today’s parents mostly believe that the benefits of their children owning smartphones outweigh the risks.
It’s hard to argue against the convenience of an always-connected family or the many valuable opportunities for children to engage in the digital world. That doesn’t mean that parents aren’t uneasy about their decision to put a smartphone in their child’s hands. Although research on this topic is currently limited, it is understandable that parents worry about the impact of prolonged screen exposure on their growing child’s cognitive and social development.
However, there’s plenty of evidence that Internet-connected devices increase children’s vulnerability to encountering inappropriate and harmful content, as well as being subjected to online bullying, harassment, and grooming.
This raises, perhaps, the more pertinent Big Question when it comes to kids and their internet-connected devices – How do we keep them safe online? Luckily, parents now have access to a wide range of parental control tools that are designed to address this concern. It’s important to recognise that online safety starts with the careful selection of a smartphone or tablet. Both Android smartphones and iPhones offer some built-in parental control features that empower parents with functionalities like app restrictions, screen time limits, content filters, usage reports and location tracking.
While experts may not fully agree on this matter, there’s a growing inclination towards Android devices as particularly safer for children because they are more customisable, enabling parents to set up an extensive ecosystem of online safety that is far more robust than just using the device’s standard controls.
Rachelle Best, CEO and Founder of the AI-powered monitoring app, FYI play it safe, highlights the need for parents to employ a combination of strategies to create a robust ecosystem for online safety.
She says, “Android smartphones offer more flexibility, so parents have more choices available, and it’s easier and more effective to implement a comprehensive safety solution for their children. What is important to note is that whether an Android phone is safer for your child ultimately depends on how it is configured and used. Built-in parental controls offer only a basic foundation and don’t come with advanced features. This means that they are not sufficient as a stand-alone solution.
It’s quite common for parents to discover that their children find ways to bypass standard screen time limits and app restrictions. To establish an effective ecosystem for your family’s online safety, parents should complement parental controls with advanced monitoring solutions like FYI play it safe. Additionally, fostering a family culture of open communication when it comes to online threats and staying safer is essential.”
In addition to the greater scope of customisation, there are several compelling reasons why many parents choose android devices for their children:
Superior Content Control
Android devices enable less integration between apps and messaging services and have more controls on content access within individual apps. This makes it easier for parents to prevent children from inadvertently engaging with inappropriate or harmful content.
Extensive App Store Selection
Android has a larger app store offering parents more options when it comes to parental controls and device monitoring. This ensures that you have access to the latest and most advanced safety and security apps to keep your child safer.
Varied Price Range
Android offers a much wider range of devices at an array of price points. It’s easy to find a phone or tablet that fits your family budget.
Personalised User Accounts
Parents can set up multiple user accounts on an Android phone or tablet, each with different restrictions and permissions, so that parents can easily customise their controls for each child in the family.
The FYI play it safe app, which is now available on Google Play, draws on AI and ML to monitor the content of children’s online activity across multiple devices in real-time and provides parents with proactive alerts when their children are exposed to online risks. It monitors all the content that the child engages with, including social media, in-game and instant messaging chats. New accounts and apps are included by default without parents needing their child’s account credentials.
Best says, “Securing FYI play it safe’s spot on Google Play is a significant milestone in our mission to keep children safer online. The app’s presence on the platform not only increases our visibility to millions of Android users but provides parents with the reassurance that FYI play it safe is a reliable solution to help them improve their family’s online safety. The streamlined installation process simplifies the user experience, making it more convenient for families to adopt our technology and join us in creating a safer digital environment for children worldwide.”