The parental control paradox

Monday, June 24th, 2013

Cyber Tuesday Topics on TheFish 103.9FM

Parental controls are like training wheels for apps and wireless devices
(Photo: Jenn Durfey via Flickr)

Parental controls for applications and gadgets are an essential part of raising cyber-powered kids who are responsible users of technology. They can also give us a false sense of security.  Below are some of the pros and cons of parental controls, and a list of  YourSphere resources that provide instruction on “how to set” parental controls for popular devices.

Training wheels for wireless access

The idea of parental control presents a paradox when this term is used as a way of controlling children’s access to on-line activities.  Parents have authority over the household but that authority does not give us command and control over the decisions our children make because have free will.

No doubt children are executive learners, and they are drawn to the touch screen as natural and intuitive users. Every parent of young children I have encountered today marvels at how quickly they figure out passwords and navigate wireless devices to access and download applications.

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

In this regard, we are their first teachers and we would be well served to view parental controls as a training device for the parent and child.  The ultimate objective of parental controls for apps and devices is to prepare the child to be in control as responsible users.

Pros and cons of parental control settings

Benefits of parental control:

Parental controls are an important way to get your child started using apps and wireless devices in a secure way.

  • They help parents become acquainted with the apps and devices children are using
  • Depending upon the age of the child, they can be used to help children determine and maintain security parameters.
  • Provides boundary setting in the on-line world that allows parents and children to limit the number of connections, and maintain an approved set of applications (including search engines).
  • Executing parental controls in a way that engages your child about the security measures taken and why, sends the signal to your child that they matter and you care.
  • Great opportunity to talk to children about setting boundaries as a way be in charge of their on-line world and have conversations about the value of setting limits for yourself to protect personal liberty.

Here are the cons of parental control:

  • Over-reliance on parental control settings for keeping kids secure on-line. The security we seek comes from a parent-child bond around setting limits as a way to protect personal liberty.
  • Children figure out pretty quickly how to get around or work the parental controls. They are effective for a relatively short period of time.

YourSphere is a kids-only social media network built by kids, streaming age appropriate content and monitored by adults.

YourSphere parental control guides for popular apps and devices



Joanna Jullien
(Photo: Christi Benz)

Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM, Tuesdays. Her next book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media will be released in the fall 2013.


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About Joanna Jullien

Joanna Jullien

Joanna ( and her husband have raised two sons in Roseville, CA. She has a degree from U.C. Berkeley in Social Anthropology (corporate culture). Her honors thesis was awarded the Kroeber Prize and funding from National Science Foundation grant. Joanna writes to help parents with the modern-day leadership challenges of raising children. She is a contributing writer for The Granite Bay View, the Press Tribune, the Sacramento Examiner, and editor of Banana Moments.