We’ll let you in on a little secret: We don’t like the phrase “parental control.” We use it because that is what parents search for online, but we look forward to the day when the phrase “digital parenting” can replace it. Because that’s what this is actually about. You are trying to parent in the digital world, just like you would in the real one.

Key Read: What are Parental Controls?

Most parents don’t dream of their kids calling them “controlling,” and most kids cringe at the thought of being “controlled.”

Parenting does require setting up healthy boundaries.

Parenting is hard, and we want to support and applaud you for all that you do to encourage healthy habits in the lives of your child. You feed them nutritious food when they are young with hopes that they’ll make healthy choices when they are adults. You have them wear a bike helmet and a seatbelt.

Those guardrails don’t prevent them from ever making an unhealthy choice or getting hurt, but if they were to stumble or get in an accident, they will be better protected and respond well.

Protecting them online with parental control apps and settings is important, too, and it’s hard and different than parenting in a world without the Internet in the palm of everyone’s hand.

Parenting today is different than it used to be because of the kind of content available online.

Back when those of us reading this were kids, our parents didn’t drop us off in adult bookstores, video store employees would not allow us in the back room with videos not meant for children, and television channels with porn were not part of mainstream television. The worst a kid could see was whatever was allowed on cable television, and even then, the worst wasn’t nearly comparable to the explicit content available on the Internet today. Parental control meant turning off the one device that could stream content into the home.

Parenting today is different than it used to be because the consequences are greater.

In the ‘80s and ‘90s, messages shared between teenage girls were written on pieces of paper that were ripped up and thrown out at the end of the school day. And sharing a photo meant physically sharing the likely only copy of a picture that existed. If something questionable, embarrassing, or scandalous happened, there was no meme to commemorate the event, and gossip spread without the assistance of video.

Today, digital footprints last forever.

Even if something sent electronically disappears or is only meant for an audience of one, a quick screenshot can be sent to the masses and saved forever. There is no “tearing up and throwing away” a digital note or photo.

Living in the age of the Internet, when children make mistakes with something they say or portray, it’s impossible to undo and can have consequences not only socially but also educationally and professionally. Their mistakes can now be found in online searches, much unlike life before smartphones and social media.

Parenting today is different than it used to be because the Internet is accessible everywhere.

Televisions typically lived in common areas. Everyone in the family could see what one person was watching, and even if parents weren’t home, the availability of explicit content had limits. It wasn’t possible for someone to access everything ever posted on the Internet from the palm of their hand.

Even if there is no intent to look for something against the rules, children are now exposed to content unintentionally.  A simple online search for a school project could bring up explicit images you’d rather your children didn’t see—including hardcore porn. Some platforms with interesting and educational information, such as Twitter and Reddit, don’t have policies against posting explicit content. If you are on either of these following completely appropriate content and topics, someone could accidentally be exposed to pornography with an unintentional click.

Despite these challenges, technology is amazing.

Especially in 2020, children have spent a significant amount of time communicating with devices in their hands. Overnight the pandemic shifted school online, and social lives were shifted to screens, even for the youngest family members.

Our worlds were rocked, and young people faced challenges and were presented with opportunities that their parents never fathomed or experienced themselves due to the effects of a virus. Those same young people then leveraged the tools at their fingertips to continue education, dive into new hobbies, and connect with their peers.

The question remains: How do you, as a parent, encourage your children to leverage technology, because it’s amazing, while also keeping them safe with parental control apps and settings?

Learn: What are the Best Parental Control Apps this Year?

Parental control apps and settings can help your children thrive.

You can tailor settings on popular video-streaming services and choose whether or not your children can make purchases from their fingertips. Even granting or retracting permission to download an app is possible. This helps protect those you love most by creating a safer Internet experience.

Canopy can also give you the confidence that there will be no access to pornographic websites on devices it protects, and we know that there are also other guardrails you’d like to use to help your children become wise tech users.

You can not only use Canopy but also put in place some other parental control to protect those you love most. They may take a few minutes to implement and discuss with your children, but once the settings are in place, kids can go online with a sense of freedom and you can be confident that if they bump up against those guardrails, they won’t fall off the cliff.

Learn more about Canopy’s technology and begin digitally parenting with us today.

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We built Canopy to empower families to enjoy a safer digital experience.

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