Good Digital Parenting
Blog | Sept. 15, 2017

Monitoring your child’s screen time, then and now

Corporate Communications, Verizon

My millennial children came of age in the early 2000s, before most phones had cameras; when social media meant Myspace—and screens still referred to movie theaters. When providing cell phones to our young teens, we made sure they could call and text and then tried to monitor their activity. Discovering a teen has sent and received text messages at 3 am, (and left the house) confirms your fears and affirms the need for consequences and frequent phone examinations. Just like today’s parents, we risked tension and mistrust for the sake of our kids’ security and safety. I am envious of the new parent apps available that let them easily set boundaries and establish limits on when and what kids can do with their phones. In September, Verizon re-introduced the FamilyBase app with several new features.

Smartphones have become a teen’s ever-present companion, opening the door to both age appropriate and very adult apps; the wild wooly web plus the back-biting snark from frenemies on social media. Of course, the phones, apps, websites and networks also create positive bonds and connections, and even save lives.

Jessica Smith’s 12 year-old boy is growing up in Massachusetts, and he’s had an iPhone since age 10. He loves skate-boarding and gaming, but his interests will likely expand in the teenage years. “My biggest concern is interactions with strangers through the phone, especially predators who want to connect on the web, and meet in person” Jessica says. “So far he’s demonstrated good judgment and accepts my rules,” which means Jessica performs frequent inspections and access to all of his apps, especially those with passwords. 

“Before he got the phone, I made a really big deal about the rules,” Jessica emphasizes. “I get to inspect anytime I want and he’s only allowed to use his phone to contact people he knows personally.” Jessica is also an avid reader, keeping current on the latest threats, trends and technology involving teens and cell phones. Her relentless efforts ensure her son is using the phone appropriately. 

Parents who lack some of Jessica’s skill and devotion will prefer monitoring and controls that are simple and automated. With FamilyBase by Verizon, parents set limits on a child’s phone (and tablet) use by time of day with just a few taps. This prevents many distractions at school, during homework time, family time and keeps them sleeping late at night instead of texting. 

Parents may still choose to manually check the phone browser history, explore activity on apps, reading through text messages, view pics and snaps, but with FamilyBase, you can block unwanted contacts, adult apps and restrict content that’s offensive. Of course, a monitoring and filtering app doesn’t mean you can ignore your child’s phone habits, but will help you monitor their activity and set smarter boundaries. 

Verizon is a member of the Family Online Safety Institute. 

For more information about the FamilyBase app, go to: www.vzw.com/familybase