You’ve lectured them for hours and preached to them for days about using their device responsibly. Then you find out they’ve been spending time on THAT social site which might make the most mature adult cringe. You confiscate their cellphone and threaten to never return it if you ever catch them on the site again. After their look of disgust, they blurt out, “I can’t WAIT ‘til I graduate and get out of your house!”. Feeling you’ve won the battle but are far from claiming victory, you worry about what would be the next best move. As you may have come to find out, when you deny access when they’re dead set on using, they won’t stop until they find a window of accessibility.
How Can They Access Tech Spaces When Parents Forbid It?
With a bit of savvy, time invested in internet research, and perseverance, there is not much you can do to completely stop them from going there. Here are a few of the more common ways they are bypassing parental restrictions:
- Using the Ol’ Translator Trick – A few years ago, after being upset by a call, a professional basketball player cursed the referee in a different language. As luck would have it, the referee spoke that different language and assessed the player’s team a technical foul! Similarly, your child may trick the parental control software which prevents them from accessing sites with certain keywords (e.g. porn) through the use of Google Translate as a proxy. Google Translate is a service which provides the translation of words. Your savvy sixteen-year-old might use the term порно, Russian for porn, to access previously inaccessible content.
- Having the Proxy Serve as the Middleman – Perhaps you’ve heard of the teens who had an adult (middleman) go into the store to buy booze for them because they were underage. Proxy websites function in a similar way as your child can go to the proxy site and type the web address to be accessed. The proxy server will then retrieve the content from the desired server for your determined youngster to access. Unless you add the proxy site to the list of blacklisted sites, your child will be able to continue to use this loophole get previously restricted content.
- Unlocking Through a Key logger – With a bit of ingenuity, your budding computer scientist can install a program on your device which records your typing or keystrokes. They can then use your password(s) to disable or modify controls and enter the forbidden tech space.
- Cracking the Neighbor’s Code – Most homes in America today have a Wi-Fi router, which typically has an indoor range of up to 150 feet and outdoor range up to 300 feet. If their friend, who lives next door or in the upstairs apartment, has a parent with more laxed parental controls, they can simply ask them for the password to start surfing.
What is the Best Way to Keep Them Safe While Surfing?
Short of burning all the electronic devices in a bonfire and bolting all the doors shut, accessing social sites and similar places in tech spaces is a certainty. If their will is strong enough, the question is not if or can, but when or where will they finally gain access. The most effective way to keep them out of harms’ way when using those can’t-live-without-you electronic devices is to create a comprehensive plan which couples a strong communicative parent-child relationship with effective parental control software. The following are a few powerful ways to get started with such a plan:
- Carve out regular time to spend with them where you have two-way conversations about the promises, perils, and pitfalls of tech spaces. Let them know you understand that the web (along with social media) can be a phenomenal resource which can help make their lives a lot easier if used in the right way. Point out specific tech spaces which have a history of putting teens’ and tweens’ safety in jeopardy, show them why they shouldn’t access them by reading or watching stories of the poor experiences of others. My last post provided a host of reasons why Kik should be removed from their app list (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-kik-should-kicked-out-your-childs-suite-apps-jelani-jabari-ph-d-?trk=hp-feed-article-title-publish ).
- Remind them about the basics of web safety, such as being careful about adding contacts they’ve never met in person or never sharing personal information (e.g. physical address, email address, school name, birth name, etc.). Highlight how predators often use the grooming process where they initially promise to give them the world, attempt to gain their trust, then set up the offline (in-person) meeting with the aim of assaulting them.
- On a regular basis, let them choose an activity you all do together where they enjoy the time dedicated to them. Be it their favorite video game, television show, or physical activity, nothing deepens a relationship as much as spending leisure time with someone you love.
- Let them know that you understand that when they leave home, it will ultimately be up to them to stay out of risky situations in tech spaces and that you trust them to make safe choices.
- Invest in a good parental control software, such as Qustudio. Effective software will allow you to set limits on web time, monitor who they are in contact with, what sites they visit, apps they download, and even alert you when they leave a particular geographical area. Tell them about the love you have for them and concern for their safety as the why behind it being installed.
In a word, if their heart is set to access it they will eventually be able to do so. Creating and keeping a strong communicative relationship with them where you regularly talk about the risky events in tech spaces will help them make informed decisions when out of your watchful eye.