Parental control: how to protect yourself?

Parental control: how to protect yourself?

Because the Internet is not a paradise in which everyone is beautiful and kind, and because children and adolescents are often a little reckless in their practices, you have to know how to frame what can be seen and what must remain invisible. This is why there are a multitude of control systems intended for worried parents. Overview.

A broad subject, parental control presents itself in different ways depending on the terminals and operating systems that are used. It is also of variable geometry, according to individual moral guidelines, and must be able to adapt to different visions of education and the protection of children. For some parents, this will primarily be to prevent the downloading of paid content. Others will seek to erect real walls to prevent access to various content. Not to mention those who wish to have full control over the online activities of their offspring. In short, no solution is universal and a good parental control tool must know how to adapt to the needs of each family. We present here different solutions, mainly on smartphones and tablets, in addition to the services offered by access providers on their Internet box. And it is clear that not everyone is in the same boat.

iOS: must-have native restrictions

Apple being Apple, third-party application developers do not have much leeway to offer services to influence content management. In addition, iOS devices still do not offer the possibility of creating other user accounts or even a simple guest account. It's painful, but that's how it is! However, this does not prevent blocking a number of things, because iOS still offers a clever system of restrictions. Better to use this solution which remains the most complete in terms of functionality. And as we'll see, Apple has given it some pretty good thought.

Click on the “Settings” icon of the iPhone or iPad and go to “General”; it is here, going down a little, that the “Restrictions” tab is found. To activate Restrictions mode, you obviously have to choose a security code. Then you can activate or deactivate the control and many things like access to the web browser, the camera, FaceTime, in-app purchases, etc. It's up to everyone to see what they want to authorize or not.

A little lower, we can limit other points by adjusting the classification permissions: deactivate music with explicit content or restrict films to those authorized at least 10 years old, for example, or even not authorize any film at all. . The same actions can be performed for series, books, and apps.

Logically enough, a website restriction function is offered in order to control access to this vast minefield. The “Allow only these websites” function provides full control over the content accessible through the browser. Finally, Apple offers a battery of privacy options to adjust according to your desires and / or needs.

Of course, there are other parental control solutions that are more or less effective and often paid, whether by direct purchase, by subscription or by a system of priced options. But overall, the restrictions that can be set up natively in iOS do the same job. We can still complain about the impossibility of defining time slots for use, but this problem can be circumvented by limiting access to Wi-Fi from the Internet box. For 4G, on the other hand, it is impossible.

Android: pay attention to the diversity of terminals

The Google system does not have any built-in parental controls. At least not in appearance, because it is possible to establish restrictions via the system of creation of user accounts. We will see how, here on an Honor 8 smartphone equipped with Android 7.0 (Nougat). Please note, as Android smartphones are all slightly different, the same actions will not always be located in the same places.

Let's start by creating a new account. To do this, go to “Settings” - a priori, all Android smartphones have this tab. Very often, you can also access the accounts interface by going through the quick options menu, which you bring up by sliding from the top to the bottom of the screen. If not, continue to “Advanced Settings” then “User Accounts”. All you have to do is tap on “Create user account” and follow the steps step by step.

Once the account is created, we will switch to it and launch the Play Store in order to configure it. The idea is of course to see how to prevent a smart kid from downloading anything and everything. Once in the store, you must click at the top left to access the drop-down menu containing the Settings option. This is where the parental control options are located. We will then click on parental control and create a PIN code to lock access to the options. As with Apple, it is possible to limit access to content categorized by age groups and prevent listening to music with so-called explicit lyrics.

Finally, let's come back to the Play Store Settings: a little below "Parental Control" are the options for restricting access to the Play Store. It is thus possible to prohibit access to paid content from the Google store without prior identification. If that is not enough, to prevent content from being downloaded outside the official store, let's go back to the phone settings, then "Advanced settings" and "Security" to close access to the applications presented here as unofficial.

So much for the outline of the restrictions allowed by Google. We are quite far from a real parental control system, and this is normal, because the Mountain View firm is currently working on its “Google Family Link”. This future application - for Android and in a more limited version for iOS - will be specifically dedicated to parental control with management of accessible content, hours of use and other rules of good digital hygiene. On paper, this all looks great and pretty comprehensive, but for now, Family Link is only accessible by invitation and in the US only. No release date has yet been announced by the American giant.

Therefore, very attentive parents will probably opt for third-party solutions while waiting for the release of Family Link. You should know that good parental control services are generally paid. For example, we have chosen the Kids Place and Norton Family Parental Control applications, tested and approved by many users who, unfortunately, have sometimes seen certain previously free options become paid without warning.

MacOS & Windows: an already very complete basic offer

As for macOS, the parental control system (accessible in “System Preferences” then “Parental Control”) is particularly comprehensive with many options to define. It is frankly well done and almost perfect for simple and efficient use.

The "Time" tab of the parental control interface in macOS.

On Windows, follow the guide provided by Microsoft to enable parental controls. These integrated services will be suitable for the majority of users, but it is of course possible to use third-party services which we will not detail here - firstly because the subject is extremely broad, but especially because the younger generations it It must be said, more readily use smartphones and tablets.

Access providers: to each their own

In the case of terminals connected by Wi-Fi, having control over the parameters of an Internet box can offer increased control over certain activities. We will take the case of a Livebox 4 (Orange) here, but most operators offer control functions to their subscribers.

At Orange, it is above all an application called “My Livebox” (iOS, Android) and essentially dedicated to the management of connected devices. It is thus possible to define which terminals are authorized and, on a case-by-case basis, to allow and prohibit access or to plan time restrictions. Strictly speaking, there is therefore no control over the content from the box. Orange however offers different solutions that can be viewed on the official website. As for video content on Livebox Play, it is possible to apply restrictions by age group using the TV interface (“Orange and Me” section). Finally, note that the supplier offers a radical option called “Internet Pause” which simply cuts… everything. A function surely intended to bring together members of the same family, but to be used with caution because the names of birds are likely to fuse!



At SFR / Numericable, there is an ultra-complete solution called SFR Family, offering Parental Control with time slots, application blocking, Internet filtering, etc. Only downside: the offer is not free! For Bouygues, it's a little less complete, just like at Free. If the integrated parental control does not meet the needs, it is advisable to consider using third-party solutions to complete the device that you want to set up. Last important information: not all households are equipped with the same generation of box; it is therefore necessary to take care to determine the model in order to find information more easily on the official sites of each access provider.

What about game consoles?

On Xbox One, it is possible to limit access to certain content, set up web filtering or even restrict purchases. Same thing on PlayStation 4. But Nintendo is doing the best for its Switch, with an iOS or Android application. It allows you to manage the time spent, to receive activity reports and of course offers an essential system of restrictions by age groups.


Conclusion: support is essential

Parental control is a huge subject, impossible to cover exhaustively as there are so many different solutions. We have swept through the most common here, but there are many very specific cases. If we leave Netflix free for children, for example, it is this specific service that will have to be configured using its own parental control options. Clearly, we never really finished configuring everything. It is therefore better to avoid sinking into panic fear, and to favor benevolent support for children in the face of content. And do not forget that by restraining them too much, our dear blond heads could be tempted to go and play with things forbidden at the boyfriend or the girlfriend with less strict parents. As often, it is advisable to show nuance.

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