How to make your child’s WhatsApp experience safer

October 21, 2021

WhatsApp is one of those messengers we all use the most, and so is for our children. The use they make of it, and other apps such as Instagram worries us: what if they talk to strangers, how long they use it, how it can affect their self-esteem, and so on.

We must protect our children from the dangers of social networks and messengers like WhatsApp, but at the same time, we must let them have their privacy and intimacy. To do this, there are resources such as parental control that allow us to set limits on their use when they are young and are not fully aware of their actions on the Internet. But if this tool is not accompanied by a digital education, our children will not be able to have a healthy relationship with technology and social networks.

What is Parental Control?

Parental Control is a tool that can be implemented in different electronic devices and applications that restricts certain content and limits the time of use. This instrument should be understood as a form of supervision of our children, not as a form of prohibition and spying on what they do on the networks. Spying is not only ineffective, but it is also illegal. However, monitoring is necessary, not to say obligatory, or don’t we monitor their companies, trips, parties, or places they go to?

Surveillance and spying on our children turn us into overprotective parents. We want to avoid all kinds of dangers, and that’s why we go overboard and intrude on their privacy. There are apps in the iOS and Android marketplaces that allow us to have complete remote control of our children’s mobile phones and therefore of their WhatsApp and everything they write. We should never resort to this type of application that completely violates their privacy because, on the one hand, we will be betraying our children and, on the other hand, the moment they find out, their trust in us will be undermined.

However, parental control based on a pact with our children, on limits, and digital education will be effective both for their safety and their trust in us. And who knows, maybe our child is overusing their normal time on the web to find some educational information, or the new person they added to contacts is a free essay writer that helps them improve their writing skills?

Is there a Parental Control tool on WhatsApp?

Although there are specific applications and social networks that already incorporate parental control, such as YouTube with YouTube Kids or Tik Tok through family synchronization, WhatsApp does not have a tool for this. But we can look for alternatives to be able to supervise our children’s use of this messaging app and protect them from the dangers that may exist.

Jointly establish a time limit.

We can establish a pact with our children about the time they can use this app. It is advisable to follow the guidelines laid down by UNICEF: babies up to 18 months should not be exposed to screens; from 2 to 5 years old, a maximum of 30-60 minutes; from 5 to 12 years old, a maximum of an hour and a half; and when they are teenagers, we should accompany them in their use.

Pact to set a password

Within this pact, we can include the option of opening the app only with a fingerprint, and this fingerprint should be that of the parents. This way, even if they have a mobile phone, they will not be able to use it unless they ask for permission and we give them our fingerprint. To activate this option, go to Settings>Account>Privacy> activate Fingerprint lock.

Make their profile picture and information only visible to contacts

Likewise, to protect our children from the dangers of this network, we can restrict who can see their profile picture, information, or status. To do this, go to Settings>Account>Privacy>click on the options of “Profile photo”, “Info”, “Status”> and click on “My contacts”. In this way, an unknown person who writes to them will not access any of this data unless our children add them as contacts.

Conduct networking education from early childhood

The most outstanding parental control our children can have is to have provided them with guidelines and lessons about the Internet and social networks from an early age.

As parents, we must be aware of our children’s social networks and messengers and the dangers that can be found, for example, on WhatsApp. So that when we ask them who they talk to or what they do when they have their mobile phone at their disposal, they are not ashamed to tell us. Likewise, if they receive inappropriate messages or messages from unknown people, they can tell us without fear.

This supervision should not start in adolescence, not even in pre-adolescence, but in early childhood. Even if they don’t yet have their own mobile, the use we allow them to make of ours is already setting many habits and limits. Suppose our children are teenagers and we want to set limits on their use of mobile phones or other screens. In that case, we will find more resistance to accepting certain conditions if we have not educated them in responsible use from an early age.

Tips for using WhatsApp

In the end, every child will understand the rules if you simplify them enough. This is why we provide you with these four obvious tips that can help them in their use of WhatsApp.

  • They should never give their phone number to strangers.
  • If an unknown person speaks to them and they feel uncomfortable, they should go to their parents and show them the conversation.
  • They should also go to their parents and show them the conversation if they are being forced to do something by someone they know.
  • They can use the reporting and blocking tools when strangers contact them.

No parental control will be effective if it is not accompanied by a digital education that allows them to see the disadvantages and advantages of any social network. This is why you should educate yourself together with your child on cybersecurity.


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