Finding the Right Balance Between Parental Control and Child Freedom

Having a sense of control over one’s life is important for Child control and teenagers, particularly as they develop their identities away from their parents. However, too much parental control can have negative impacts on kids. It’s essential to find the right balance between controlling their screen time and allowing them the freedom they need for healthy development.

Parental controls and apps are designed to help limit the amount of time a child spends on their phone, tablet, or computer, as well as restrict their access to certain content. However, even with these tools in place, kids can figure out ways around them. They may be able to circumvent these features by changing the location settings on their device, for example. Or they could hack into their family’s computers and phones to get around the parental controls that are in place.

The goal of parental control is to help monitor, teach, and regulate appropriate behavior. While a degree of behavioral control is important for kids, when it becomes over-controlling or psychologically manipulative, it can have adverse effects. This type of control is typically driven by fear and desire to protect children from danger or risk. Children of psychologically controlling parents are more prone to act out, have lower self-esteem, and are less able to regulate their emotions and behaviors. They may also be more prone to physical aggression towards others and are more likely to pass on this type of harsh parenting to their own children.

Behavioral control involves supervising and managing children’s behavior, while psychologically controlling parents manipulate their kids’ feelings of loyalty towards them. Baumrind’s studies of parents found four patterns that separated them into categories based on their levels of warmth and control – authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and neglectful/rejecting. Authoritarian parents had high levels of control and low levels of warmth, authoritative parents had moderate levels of both, permissive parents had low levels of control but high levels of warmth, and neglectful/rejecting parents had low levels of both warmth and control.

When it comes to technology, a good starting point is talking to your kids about their online activities. This can help them understand that while you trust them to make their own decisions, you reserve the right to check on what they are doing if you feel it’s necessary for your safety or theirs.

This way, when they encounter content that they think crosses a line, such as seeing “thinspiration” on Instagram or a video with hate speech, they know what to do and can reach out for help. It’s also worth pointing out that no filter or app is 100% accurate, and it’s essential to be open with your kids about how these platforms are designed. Jason Kelley, a strategist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, notes that these tools aren’t geared toward the privacy needs of toddlers or teens, and they can often be hacked or bypassed. They’re also not designed to recognize the difference between a post that promotes body positivity and one that advocates thinness.