Consumer Reports explores improved parental control settings for kids, teens on electronic devices

ByNydia Han and Heather Grubola WPVI logo
Monday, May 16, 2022
Tech companies improving parental control settings for kids devices
Consumer Reports explains that the same companies that create these addictive devices for teens and kids are now offering new ways parents can set limits and keep their children safe.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- If you're a parent and stressed about your kids' screen time, we have some help for you.

Consumer Reports explains that the same companies that create these addictive devices are now offering new ways that parents can set limits and keep their children safe.

"My biggest fear is just them seeing something that's too scary or something that they weren't really ready to learn," said parent Whitson Gordon.

Trying to keep your kids safe online can feel like a full time job. Aside from reminding them not to share personal information or photos, you've got to worry about them talking to strangers, stumbling upon inappropriate content or just spending too much time staring at a screen.

"There are a lot of free options you can use to keep an eye on your kids online," said Melanie Pinola, Consumer Reports Tech Editor.

Pinola said tech companies are improving features that some parents might want to try.

Take Microsoft Family Safety, it's built into Windows and also available as an app for Xbox, Android, and iOS. Apple's parental controls for iOS and Mac are located in Screen Time Settings. Both allow you to limit screen time and set content restrictions on your kids' devices.

There's also the Google Family Link app, which is available for Android and iOS.

"With Google Family Link and a Google account you set up for your kids, you can do anything from monitor their app usage to seeing where they are on a map," said Pinola.

The tools from Microsoft, Apple and Google also allow you to put restrictions on the apps your kids have access to.

And YouTube allows you to set up a "supervised experience" for kids under 13 that determines the types of videos your kids can watch. An even safer option for younger audiences, like Gordon's son, is YouTube Kids.

"He mostly watches science videos on YouTube. That's how he spends most of his time on his iPad," said Gordon.

Consumer Reports also advises parents like Gordon to talk to their kids about the dangers of being online and to encourage them to share anything disturbing they come across, whether it's bullying or inappropriate content.

For more information from Consumer Reports:

Parental control for smartphones

Keeping your children safe online