I came of age in a time when the Internet was still in its nascent stages in the 1990s. Back then, to get online, we had to dial in via a screeching modem and you could not talk on the landline while someone else was online.
Those were innocent times at the dawn of the new digital era.
These days, technology pervades every facet of our lives — we are awoken each morning by a lit screen and many of us cannot fall asleep without first scrolling through our social media feed on our mobile phones.
Often, I see children as young as one, nestled in their prams cradling a smartphone or tablet in their little arms, shut off from the world, intently watching a video or playing a mobile game.
As a new mother, it scares me how quickly children can get addicted to the allure of a brightly coloured screen.
The world wide web may be a treasure trove of information for young minds, but it is also host to a cesspool of dark actors.
Online threats to children are numerous — child pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry and sexual grooming of minors makes the news so often these days. Plus, a recent study revealed that three in four kids in Singapore have been cyberbullied.
And it does not help that Mum and Dad are often too preoccupied with work to actively track junior’s online activities.
An easy solution
I need to find a way to protect my son before he swipes a smartphone for the first time.
It is important to inculcate good cyber habits in children from a young age, but having extra parental controls installed onto computers and mobile phones are still essential to keep out negative influences or predators in cyberspace.
My friend who has two young kids recommended M1 Cyber Guardian, a network-based solution that does not even require any installation. As long as the kid is on M1's network, parents can customise and manage the use of the Internet for their children by monitoring online time and content across all devices.
How to sign up
You can now sign up for M1 Cyber Guardian at just $2.70/mth via My M1 app or at any M1 Shop outlets islandwide. First-time subscribers to Cyber Guardian can enjoy free six months subscription. Click here for more information.
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What’s more, older kids will not be able to delete the app to get past the controls.
You do not have to be a tech genius to use it — simply set the restriction criteria and it will be automatically updated on all devices.
My friend no longer worries about her kids chancing upon undesirable content such as pornography online as she can customise what they can see using preset filters (Lite, Teens, Child). There is even an added option of customising the filter settings to block additional content, such as specific websites.
While her kids used to bury their faces in their phones the entire day, M1 Cyber Guardian has enabled her to set a daily Internet schedule (for example, from 9am to 5pm) for them. She can even turn off Internet access completely at certain times of the day, like at bedtime.
It has even helped to curb her son’s addiction to online gaming. To help him concentrate on his schoolwork better, she sets a schedule for homework time from 2pm to 5pm each day and restricts gaming websites during that period. He still gets to use the Internet for research.
And even though my friend is away from her kids most of the day while working, she can remotely manage the parental controls on M1 Cyber Guardian easily. She can also keep up with their cyber lives by viewing reports on their online activities through the service’s self-help portal.
As parents, we want to be there for our kids all the time to protect them. But in the moments we cannot, at least the M1 Cyber Guardian is there holding the fort.