Digital Parental Controls: Guide for Establishing Ground Rules for Your Kids

Parenting in the digital age can be challenging. There are so many things to worry about and keep track of. But one of the most important things you can do is establish ground rules for your kids’ digital use.

With all of the devices and access to the internet that kids have these days, it’s more important than ever to make sure they’re using it safely and responsibly. We’ve put together this guide to help you set up some parental controls.

The Importance of Digital Parental Controls

The internet is increasingly becoming a part of everyday life. It is more important than ever for parents to have digital parental control. High usage may lead to mood challenges, lowered grades in school, and sleep difficulties, as reported by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). Furthermore, the internet exposes children to cyberbullying or online predators. Parents can help to ensure that their children are only accessing appropriate content and are not spending too much time online.

Setting ground rules for your kids is essential to help them develop and grow in a safe environment. For example, a kid’s digital use can be divided into three categories:

  • Non-digital media use: Social media profiles, online interactions, and online communication
  • Digital media use: Social media sharing, online game playing, text messaging, and chat apps
  • Digital media creation: YouTube videos, blog posts, photo editing, and music production

As you can see, there are three different types of digital media your child may become involved with. This doesn’t mean that creating a digital parental control setting should be limited to one category or the other – it’s essential to set guidelines for each class. Hence, they remain healthy in their usage. Once you have established ground rules for each class, it will be easier to succeed as a digital parent!

In our modern world, kids are constantly inundated with screens. From the television to the computer to the tablet and smartphone, it seems like a glowing rectangle is always within arm’s reach. So how much screen time should kids have?

The answer, of course, varies depending on age. For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends no screen time for children under eighteen months. Kids aged two to five years old recommend one hour or less per day. And for children aged six and up, they suggest setting “reasonable limits” based on your child’s age, health, and development level.

Limiting Your Child’s Screen Time

Some parents feel comfortable allowing their kids to have unlimited screen time, while others prefer to set stricter limits. It’s important to consider what’s best for your family and your child’s individual needs when deciding screen time limits.

There are a few things to keep in mind when setting screen time limits for kids:

  1. Consider your child’s age and what types of activities they’re interested in. Younger children may need less screen time than older kids or teens.
  2. Think about how much free time your family has and how much screen time fits into that schedule.
  3. Set clear expectations about when and how to use screens with your kids.

Dangers of too much screen time

According to Mayo Clinic, an increase in the amount of time spent on activities that involve screens might result in obesity, sleep problems, behavioral problems, and troubles in school. The  American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry also considers these possible consequences but adds mood issues, poor self-image and body image, and less time with friends. Furthermore, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that increased screen time can lead to social disconnection and focus problems.


Healthline’s Screen Time for Kids: Guidelines, Boundary Setting, and Educational Recommendations

Internet Matters’ Learn About It

Pew Research’s Parenting Children in the Age of Screens

Recommended Screen Time by Age 

The amount of screen time children should have each day depends on their age. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AAP) recommends the following:

  • For children aged 2-5 years old, screen time should be limited to 1 hour per day.
  • For children aged 6-12, screen time should be limited to 2 hours per day.
  • For teenagers aged 13-18, screen time should be limited to 3 hours per day.
  • Apps for parental controls 

There are many app options for parental controls. Some standard features include tracking your child’s location, setting screen time limits, and monitoring their activity.

When choosing an app for parental controls, consider the most important features to you and your family. For example, do you need something that can track your child’s location at all times? Or would a schedule of when they can use their devices be more appropriate?

Many apps also allow you to monitor your child’s activity, including what websites they visit and who they are communicating with. This can help ensure your child is not exposed to inappropriate content or interacting with strangers online.

Here are three apps for parental controls.


Aura is an intuitive safety tool that is both simple to learn and user-friendly.


Parents created bark for all parents to provide a better, more straightforward, and more successful way to assist families in creating healthier digital habits.

Norton Family

Norton Family offers insights for parents hoping to foster their children’s health and devices.

iPhone Parental Controls

There are several parental controls available for the iPhone. To find these controls, go to Settings and then click on General. From there, scroll down to Restrictions. This is where you can set a passcode and then enable or disable specific features and apps.

Some things you can restrict with parental controls include in-app purchases, explicit content, Safari, Camera, FaceTime, AirDrop, and more. You can also limit access to certain rated movies and TV shows.

Parental controls are a great way to help kids responsibly use their devices. By setting some ground rules and limits, you can give them the freedom to explore while keeping them safe.

For more information, go to the iPhone parental controls website.

Streaming Service Parental Controls

As a parent, it can be challenging to keep up with the latest digital trends and know how to monitor your child’s online activity properly. Luckily, many streaming services offer parental controls that can help you manage what your kids are watching.


Netflix has a helpful guide on its website that walks you through setting up parental controls. To access these controls, go to your account settings and select “Parental Controls.” From there, you can set up a 4-digit PIN that will be required to watch certain shows or movies.

You can also use these parental controls to limit your kids’ time watching TV or movies daily. This is a great way to ensure they get enough exercise and spend time with family and friends instead of being glued to the screen all day.


To access your Hulu online account, go to your profile and click Profiles. Then, enter a name for the new child profile, and hit the “Kids” button. Next, enter the day and month of the child’s birthday to set their approximate age to prevent things from loading inappropriate search results for them.

You can create a child profile on the Hulu application for Android or iOS by touching your account icon in the bottom right-hand corner, your avatar, and the next web page. Then assign the profile a name and a birth date, and mark it as a children’s profile so you can effectively restrict its features.


The Youtube Kids Parental Guide provides two ways to establish parental control – a supervised account or a YouTube kid’s profile. 

A supervised account is a Google account for your child that grants you access to YouTube Kids or a supervised YouTube experience. If you don’t wish to create a supervised account for your child, you can create a YouTube Kids profile instead. YouTube Kids lets you create a profile for your child to use YouTube Kids on their own devices. 

Game System Parental Controls 

Most video game consoles have parental control, allowing parents to monitor and restrict their child’s gameplay. These controls can set time limits, content filters, and age-appropriate gameplay restrictions.

While these controls are not foolproof, they can help establish ground rules for your child’s gaming behavior. Here are a few tips for using game system parental controls:

1. Familiarize yourself with the parental control features of your child’s game console. Each console has its own unique set of features, so it’s important to know what options are available to you.

2. Establish clear rules and expectations for your child’s gaming behavior before allowing them to play.


You can set up some parental controls on their Xbox game system. With these controls in place, you can limit the time they spend playing games and restrict access to certain types of content.

To start, sign into your Microsoft account and go to the Family Settings page. 

Additionally, the Xbox Family settings not only explain how to use parental control for risk reduction. It shows parents how to engage in behaviors that promote healthy screen time.

You can set up some parental controls on their Xbox game system. With these controls in place, you can limit the time they spend playing games and restrict access to certain types of content. Additionally, Xbox not only talks about reducing risk and promoting healthy screen habits.

For more information, go to Xbox’s family settings page.

Nintendo Switch 

The Nintendo Switch game system has a variety of parental controls that can be used to establish ground rules for kids. These controls can be accessed through the System Settings menu.

One of the first things parents can do is set up a PIN code. This will be used to access parental controls and make changes to them. Once the PIN code is set, parents can then choose what types of content their child can access on the Nintendo Switch. This includes setting restrictions on games, internet browsing, and social features.

Parents can also control how long their children can play in a day. They can do this by setting a daily limit or specifying certain times when the Nintendo Switch cannot be played. If a parent wants to, they can also receive notifications when their child reaches their daily play time limit.

For more information, go to Nintendo‘s parental control page.


The Playstation game system has a variety of parental controls that can be used to establish ground rules for kids. To set controls, log into account management and select family management. This will allow you to set time limits and content accessibility.

For more information, go to the Playstation’s parental controls page.

Resources Game System Parental Controls 

It’s no secret that children today spend a lot of time playing video games. According to a recent report, the average child spends about seven hours a week playing video games. That’s why parents need to be aware of the resources available to help them establish ground rules for their kids regarding gaming.

One resource parents can turn to is the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). The ESRB is a nonprofit organization that rates video games and apps so parents can make informed decisions about which are appropriate for their children. The ESRB also offers an online tool called Parental Controls Center, which allows parents to set limits on how much time their children can play certain games and what types of games they can play.

Another helpful resource is the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), whose work includes public policy, industry best practices, and online parenting.

Tips for Keeping Children Safe Online 

It is essential to be aware of what your children are doing online. Here are some tips to help you keep them safe.

1. Set expectations early on

It’s essential to explain your definition of internet safety and establish guidelines ahead of time. Establishing these guidelines will help children develop healthy boundaries and reduce the confusion they experience growing up.

2. Teach your children about internet safety

This includes showing them how to identify trustworthy websites and not to click on links from strangers. In addition, teach your children not to give out personal information, such as their name, phone number, address, or school name.

3. Include your kids in the process

Children are more likely to follow the rules when they feel they’ve had input. Open discussion with your children about what you want from them, and provide appropriate channels to express their thoughts and feelings about what you wish for them.

4. Have a clear policy

Create a digital safety policy that is easy for parents to understand, and ensure everyone knows the policy before it applies to them. It’s easier for kids to follow the rules if there’s transparency about what is expected of them and where violations will lead to consequences (and this should be discussed with your children).

5. Monitor your children’s activity online

Establishing ground rules doesn’t mean regulating every aspect of their online behavior. Instead, limit restrictions as much as possible while providing settings that help keep kids safe. At the same time, they explore new realms of digital content and technology by using parental controls on computers or mobile devices.

6. Work with other parents to uphold digital parental controls

While parenting can differ between households, communicating amongst homes about your child’s device usage, and using parental controls together, can help keep children safe.

Digital Parental Controls Are Here to Stay

From the internet to game systems to streaming services, keeping track of your child’s screen time can be challenging. However, there is enough research that shows the behavioral, social, and academic issues that can occur with too much screen time. With the amount of research that has been conducted, it is clear that these controls are necessary to help children develop healthy habits when it comes to screen time. Fortunately, a vast majority of digital companies offer ways to protect your children. With the proper precautions in place, you can help your children have a safe and positive experience online.

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