Digital children. Sounds worrying, right? The digital revolution has impacted pretty much every aspect of our lives, perhaps none more so than parenting. Starting with babies on tablets to teens on social media, the ages and stages of raising “digital natives” (a person born or brought up during the age of digital technology) has created a unique set of challenges and questions.
In addition to parenting concerns around walking, talking and other developmental milestones, parents now face an entirely new barrage of challenges. As a father of two little ones, it’s a growing concern for me.
Everything from the effects of early screen-time exposure and inappropriate content making its way onto their kids’ devices, to the prevalence of sexting and cyberbullying, are now legitimate concerns for moms and dads. Everyday, parents face new statistics, such as a landmark survey by Common Sense Media revealing that teens spend a staggering nine hours a day on entertainment media.
Digital Children and Analogue Parents
And even beyond the headlines, there are other, equally challenging issues at play: How can parents find high-quality digital content for their kids? How can they stay on top of the latest dangerous apps? How can their child engage responsibly in social media while protecting their digital privacy?The Big Business of Connecting Parents to their Digital ChildrenClick To Tweet
These are questions faced by almost every family in the United States and beyond. A recent survey revealed that 97% of US parents said they children used mobile devices of some sort — almost all before their first birthday. Each year, the age at which kids are getting their own digital device is declining. The average age for smartphone ownership is now 10. Digital children – this trend is here to stay.
With this relatively sudden and massive shift has come a unique business opportunity to help millions of families looking for information and services to keep kids safe, healthy and connected during the rapidly unfolding digital revolution. The parental monitoring software industry has grown in response to the challenges of parenting kids on digital devices. The concept — to manage your kids’ technology with technology — has gained traction as parents look for solutions to stay connected to their digital children online, even when they’re not physically with them.
Digital Children is becoming Big Business
It’s proving to be a massive market. In 2015 alone, there were 124 million downloads of parental apps, generating multi-million dollar revenues.
And while the goal of most monitoring companies is the same — to keep kids safe online — the ways in which they propose to do this vary widely. Some parental monitoring solutions offer what’s commonly referred to as “spyware” software. This enables the parent to monitor their kids’ online activities without their knowledge or consent. This can include the ability to read texts and social media posts, to see which apps have been downloaded and to review all images on photo rolls. To use these solutions, parents must install software on their kids’ devices without their children knowledge.
Other software solutions offer a transparent connection between kids and parents. Kids know mom and dad can see certain online activities and that they have the ability to block inappropriate websites. They also know that their parents might be able to see who they are following on social media, or what websites they have visited. With more transparent tools, parents may not be able to monitor personal messages sent by the kids, either in text, email or social media form.
Forcefield is unique in that it’s the only parental monitoring solution to pair customizable content blocking solutions with a vast library of digital content curated for toddlers, school-age children, tweens and teens. Forcefield is non-spyware software that allows parents to block inappropriate websites, remotely sleep apps on mobile devices, to see photos shared on social networks and to receive real-time notifications any time a child installs a new app. At the same time, children can explore within a customize-able, secure browsing environment that is pre-loaded with the world’s top educational websites.
Forcefield is geared towards helping kids and teens learn to become good digital citizens, and is designed to keep parents and kids connected online. What I really like about it, as a parent, is that it focuses on digital mentorship over censorship based on the belief that if kids are old enough to have a cell phone, they deserve some modicum of privacy. And I quite like their belief that a transparent tool inspires trust and conversation among families as they navigate the digital world together.Digital Children and Analogue Parents - great post with a unique solutionClick To Tweet
Forcefield includes features that let families moderate how much time is spent on devices (the App Sleeper) and to keep parents connected to what their children are consuming, both with apps (App Report) and websites visited (Activity Report). Research shows that limiting overall time spent on devices and protecting young children from mature and inappropriate content are two of the most powerful and effective ways to keep kids safe online. Forcefield works on iOS devices and Mac computers.
Many thanks go to Forcefield for introducing me to their solution, and opening my eyes to how the challenge can be managed relatively easily.
Previously, he was Director at Comms Axis, a full service marketing agency specialising in content, social media & website services for businesses of all sizes.
Dan Purvis writes for a number of leading business, social media and marketing sites, including Smart Insights, MarketingProfs, Marketo, MarTech Advisor, Marketing Tech News, MarTech Today, MarTech Exec, and more.
Dan was also ranked by Brand Republic as one of the Top 50 UK Marketing & Social Media influencers.
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