Are Parental Controls a Help or a Hindrance?

By October 22, 2019Parenting

As a parent, you are aware of the need to limit screen-time.  Naturally, you use your tech-savvy skills to set parental controls on your child’s computer/phone/ipad to restrict the amount of time that your child is “glued” to a screen.  Can you sit back, relax and feel comfortable that this parenting dilemma has been solved? Uh, sorry, but the answer is “no”. Most likely, your child has figured out how to bypass whatever controls you set, because as knowledgeable you think you may be in technology, chances are that your child has surpassed your skills.  

More importantly, though, the idea of setting parental controls for your child might not be the right approach to trying to teach your child about the unfavorable results of spending too much time on-screen.  Your child needs to develop their own self-control in going online in order to prevent being distracted from completing homework or other responsibilities. Children need to understand when it is socially unacceptable and even harmful to relationships if they are staring at their phones during certain social situations.  

Parents have a responsibility to educate their children on being digitally-wise. With their guidance, children will understand the benefits and the dangers of living in a digital world and develop healthy screen-use practices.  An article in Psychology Today outlined some items that parents should teach their children:

  • The risks of using your screen while walking or driving
  • How using a screen right before bed may keep you from falling asleep
  • The importance of balance
  • The cognitive burden of continual interruptions that impact performance (from grades to basketball)
  • How to navigate social relationships that flow from online to offline and back again
  • How to recognize and withstand bullies, trolls, and other dangers
  • How to identify misinformation (and our tendency to believe things that match what we already think)
  • The illusion of digital privacy
  • The permanence (and lack of control) over online information and images


During this difficult time, we are here for you, as we always have been, to help consider safe, educational and therapeutic opportunities for your adolescent/young adult.