Inside: Unsure about which parental control software to use? Read this Qustodio review to find out if it's the right one for how your family uses the internet.
This blogpost is a review of the Qustodio app and how it can help to protect your child from exposure to porn.
And because I am a parent and not very technology-savvy (I still don’t know how to change channels on our tv), this review will be very practical (and not technical!).
Remember, I’m not a cybersafety expert (and I don’t pretend to be).
If you’d like to learn more about parental controls (and why you might need them), please read this blogpost, where I talk about parental control software.
Qustodio is a program that you install onto your desktop computer, laptop, smartphones and tablets. You don’t need to buy any special equipment (like a router) to use it.
It works on Windows, Mac OS X, Android, iOS, and Kindle.
It’s pretty simple actually. (Yes, even I managed to install it!)
You just download an app to your phone, download a program to your computer or just log into the Qustodio Family Protection Portal through your internet browser.
You need to install it to your own computer or device. This way you can control the settings. Having it on your phone means you can quickly make changes.
You'll also need to install it onto your child’s device/s.
TIP: The app on your phone is permanently logged in. Which means that if you don’t have your phone locked (or your kids know how to unlock your phone) it will be easy for them to go in and change the settings.
Qustodio supports iPhones, iPads, and iPods running iOS 11 and up.
Which means that if your apple device is running on an older version (like one of ours), then you won’t be able to download the app.
So I contacted Qustodio to find out how to install it, and this is what they said (and here’s the link to download it this way).
There’s a number of different things that Qustodio can do.
These are the things that I like about it!
Now, a word of caution. Depending on your parenting style (and each individual child), some features you will like and some you won't. So just switch off the features you don't want to use, like monitoring their calls and texts.
Blocks inappropriate content. So your child can’t access websites that you don’t think are suitable. You can block by category (eg porn, guns) or by site (eg redtube.com).
Balances screen time. So you can control when your child watches the internet and for how long. For example, my son can’t watch YouTube during the week but he can play Spotify before and after school.
Controls online games and apps. So you can control what they are playing on and for how long. For example, I have set a 24 hour ban on YouTube during the week, and allowed 3 hours on weekends.
Monitors activity. So you can see what they are doing when online and decide if they need to have more balanced use. For example, my son spends waaay too much time on YouTube, so I now restrict his access. Which means he now spends more time building things on Minecraft (which requires creativity, problem solving, self-direction instead of the mindlessness of just watching videos).
Monitors social media networks. So you can see how much time they are spending on social media, like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, and more.
Advanced Social Monitoring (that comes with the paid plan) where you can track what your child writes on Twitter, Yahoo Messenger, chats on Facebook and with whom, but it is not possible to read the actual conversation.
All other social networks or apps, such as Skype, Instagram, Kik, etc. can be monitored with Qustodio as any other application. However, Qustodio will not reveal what was said or exchanged between users on these apps or networks, only when the app was used and for how long. It is possible to completely block these apps, or set a time limit for each.
So make sure you have a look at your child's settings for each social media platform they have joined, so that you have it set up in the safest possible way. Leonie Smith, from The Cyber Safety Lady, has up-to-date manuals on how to set up social media in a child safe way.
Monitors calls & SMS. So you can see who your child calls or texts, read messages they send and receive, and set a list of blocked contacts. (You have to set this up to happen.
Family Locator. So that you know where they are out with their device.
I’ve made a video where I'll take you inside the dashboard inside the Qustodio Family Protection Portal.
I’ll show you the settings that I have made for my two children, and you’ll be able to see the different ways that you can use Qustodio.
I have a 10 year old son who is super curious and spends a lot of time on YouTube. (Frankly, I am amazed that he hasn’t already seen porn. We have had a few close calls though.) And I also have a 14 year old daughter who is pretty mature and level headed but she does spend a lot of time playing Sims, watching Netflix and chatting to a small circle of friends via messenger.
I have also tested Qustodio, in regards to typing in search terms that usually bring up porn, as well as visited a porn site! And yes, it did block the sexually explicit stuff!
That’s up to you.
You can set it up on their device and hide it so your child doesn’t know.
Or you can set it up with their full knowledge!
But, I’d like to suggest that your child knows that it is installed. Being open and honest with your child means that they feel safe to talk to you about their experiences online.
So let your child know that you have installed parental controls, and ask them to sit with you and have a look at what you can see about their online activity. My son was surprised at how much time he was spending on YouTube. He is now a lot more aware of the amount of time that he has, and is more careful about where he spends that time.
Plus it is a great way to start conversations about internet safety. Since we have installed Qustodio in our house, I have had a lot more discussions with my kids about internet safety.
This the first parental control we have used, but honestly, I don’t mind it. For the moment, the protection that it provides is enough for our family. It has more features than we need, so I’ve turned some of them off.
And it is pretty easy to install and then set up!
Just make sure you go in and test it. So that you know howit works and that it works properly. For example, I looked for porn on my 14 year old's tablet, and found it. I then went and checked the settings and realised that I hadn't actually blocked the category of porn. Once I changed the setting, porn was then blocked.
My mission is to create resources that will help you to naturally talk to your kids about sex, all while respecting your personal values.
Which means that inside this website, you'll find lots of resources to help you with talking to your child about love, sex, relationships and growing up.
My Sex Education 101 page includes all of the information on sex education. You'll find lots of different blogposts to help with getting started, on a wide range of different topics.
You'll find videos about sex ed in my Sex Education Videos resource page that you can watch with your child or to learn more about sex education yourself.
You’ll also find an extensive range of sex education books for children, for kids of all ages. There's even some books in there for parents!
If you're looking for some ideas on how to talk to your child about bodies, How to Talk to Kids About Bodies, will help you to start naming the private body parts and to have shame-free conversations with them about bodies. It is filled with lots of different ideas on how to have natural converasations with your child about their body.
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If you need some help with explaining sexual intercourse to your child, then How to Talk to Kids About Sex, will help you explain sex to your child in a way they will understand. It breaks it down into simple steps that take the stress out of explaining!
If you're unsure about how to answer your child's questions about sex, then I have a number of different resources that will give you word-for-word answers that are age specific.
If you want a printed book to hold in your hands, then the The Sex Education Answer Book will give you age-specific answers to the most common questions kid's ask parents about sex. Which means you don't need to worry about finding a child-friendly explanation that your child understands.
If you want the answers to questions about a lot more than just sex, then Sex Ed Quickies is your best option. It has answers to 300+ questions that kids commonly ask parents, including how babies are made, sexual intercourse, body parts, puberty, relationships, pregnancy, birth, masturbation, sexual diversity, gender, pornography, STIs, contraception and much more.
I'm Cath, a sex educator living in Australia with my husband and 2 kids. I help parents to talk about sex (with less cringe and more confidence) and empower their child to make smart sexual decisions. To find a better way to talk about sex, you can join my community of parents and visit my shop for helpful resources.