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New study reveals that parental control apps don't protect children online

New study reveals that parental control apps don't protect children online
Parents, have you ever installed a parental control app on your teen's phone in order to keep track of where he/she goes online? Preliminary results from new research conducted by the University of Central Florida reveals that these apps, which show which websites your kid visited, block certain websites, and limit screen time, may not be effective. In addition, the use of these apps tend to drive a wedge between parents and teenagers.

An online survey measured tracked 200 parents who had at least one child 13 to 17 years old. Half of these parents admitted to using a parental control app. These parents are stricter, demanding, and refuse to compromise with their children. Surprisingly, those teens whose phones carry a parental control app were more likely than other teens to have seen explicit content, and felt harassed while online. Based on these results, one could conclude that these apps are not very effective.

The researches then went to the Google Play Store where they perused the comments posted by parents and kids (ages 8 to 19) on about 736 parental control apps available to install on Android devices. The parents gave the apps mostly good reviews. The kids? Not so much. 79% of them left two-star reviews or less (out of a possible five stars). The kids felt that these apps were an invasion of their privacy, and promoted "lazy" parenting by closing off communications between both sides. The children also complained that the parental control apps turned their parents into stalkers, and prevented them from doing homework.

The two studies helped researchers conclude that currently available parental control apps do not guarantee the safety of children who go online. The report did note that teens need some space so that they can learn how to develop "coping mechanisms" that will help them throughout their lives. The report recommends that the next generation of parental control apps include features to keep parents engaged with their kids, and teach teenagers how to deal with the dangers of going online.

It seems that parents are putting too much faith in these apps, and the study suggests that instead of using them to see where their kids go online, parents should get more involved with their teens. Find out what websites they are visiting, and discuss the things they are viewing online that affect them. Also, it is wise to talk about the dangers that they could face when using the internet. After all, by the time parents learn from an app what their kids' online behavior is like, it might be too late to protect them.

source: UCF

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