Avast, a global enabler in digital security and privacy products, has made its new parental assistance app, Avast Family Space, available for free in the UK to help families manage the reliance on internet and device usage over the summer period as lockdown uncertainty continues.
As home working, home schooling and social restrictions encourage more time spent online, parents are struggling to monitor their children’s online behaviour, manage screen time and protect them from cyber harm.
Designed to take the guesswork out of setting parental controls, Avast Family Space helps parents to block certain websites, apps, and content, pause internet connections or set usage limits. It also allows parents to monitor a child’s location with their permission, and device status while on-the-go, helpful in a return to more normal times.
“For many parents, the home has become the office, the nursery, the classroom, the playground, and the gym all rolled into one. Technology has become a family lifeline whether that’s to connect with loved ones, participate in virtual learning or exercise, or simply to provide some downtime for both parents and children. But as screen time skyrockets, so does a child’s risk of exposure to the dark corners of the internet,” said Pete Turner, Senior Vice President of Consumer Security at Avast. “Uncertainty over schools re-opening and, beyond that, the childcare options for the long summer months means devices will continue to play a central role in family life for the next few months. We wanted to make Avast Family Space accessible to all UK families so that protecting children online is one less thing parents have to worry about.”
Avast Family Space delivers the same features for both Android and iOS platforms to ensure a consistent experience for all the family no matter which device they use. In agreeing the settings for the app, it encourages families to have an open dialogue about maintaining healthy relationships with technology and what constitutes acceptable online behaviour. As parental confidence in online safety decreases as children grow up, Avast Family Space helps establish boundaries from the outset that children need in order to enjoy the freedom of their own smartphone or tablet.
Avast Family Space provides:
· Content filtering: Let children browse the web without the concern of inadvertently accessing suspicious or unwanted content, such as websites containing gambling, violence, drugs, pornography, or racism; also block individual apps or app categories, like gaming or social media.
· Internet control: Pause internet access at any time, for instance during dinner or homework, and set limits based on usage or specific times of day.
· Phone locator and status: Using real-time GPS location monitoring, locate your child’s phone and receive automatic alerts when they arrive at or leave particular locations, such as home, work, or school. Also check the battery status of your child’s device. For the apps’ phone locator feature to work, children have to actively grant the location permission on their phone.
“Many parents feel outmanned and outsmarted in our attempts to create a safer internet for our children,” said marketing director Whitney Glockner Black on the Avast blog. Despite having set up filters on her 8-year-old son’s iPhone, he still managed to accidentally access adult content thanks to a buried setting she had overlooked. Glockner Black now relies on Avast Family Space to help keep her son safe while using the phone. Alternative measures such as taking the device away altogether could feel like punishment and could discourage children from speaking to parents or guardians about their worries in the future.
“As parents, we need to remember that our children have access to the internet before they have the capacity for moral reasoning,” she continues. “Despite their little flashes of curiosity or challenging behaviour, our children want to be protected from harm.”