Signs Your Child Has Bypassed Your Parental Controls
Kids are more tech-savvy than we give them credit for. They can easily bypass your parental controls, especially if you don’t take care to cover all your bases. Follow this link to learn about setting parental controls properly on your Wi-Fi, iOS, Android, as well as Windows and Mac PCs.
On top of that, here are some of the telltale signs that your child has been messing with your restrictions.
Watching embedded videos in chat apps
Blocked the YouTube and TikTok apps because your child spends too much time binging videos? Understandable, considering kids watch twice as much content nowadays than they did back in 2016. However, if you weren’t already aware, just blocking the apps doesn’t prevent kids from watching videos embedded into texting apps (iMessage, Discord, etc.)
Friends can easily text them links,letting them watch the embedded video right in the app itself. Alternatively, some apps have built-in browsers they can use to bypass app limits (e.g. custom Chrome tabs in Discord).
It’ll take a bit more work on your part, but you cancompletely block YouTube and TikTok on your child’s device. Or even the entire network if you so choose, for those of you that don’t want to procrastinate while working from home. Here’s how to block any website, regardless of platform.
System time has been changed
Time limits from certain parental control apps can be bypassed by simply changing the system time zone. If the app you’re using doesn’t do so already, be sure to disable changes to the device settings without a password. Otherwise, kids will find new and creative ways to mess with time limits.
There is a VPN on the device
Normally, a VPN (or Virtual Private Network) is used to encrypt any network data passing through your device. Essentially, that makes it impossible to read by hackers or greedy Internet providers looking to sell your browsing data.
They can also change your IP address to a new one depending on which server you connect to. Not only does that hide your real life location, but it also allows you to get around Internet censorship and bypass geo-blocks on streaming sites like Netflix.
On top of that, connecting to a VPN server lets you circumvent firewall rules at school or at work. Of course, that also means your child can get around firewall or DNS-based parental controls. Be sure to check their phone, tablet, or PC for any apps with the word “VPN” in their title.
If they’re particularly sneaky, they may delete the app before you get a chance to look through their device. In that case, you may want to have a look “behind the scenes” and see what apps have been installed recently.
Check the app download history
Yes, your child may delete any apps that help them get around your restrictions, and re-install them when you’re not around. Alternatively, they could also delete and re-download the parental control app itself. Thankfully, you can view the app download history on your Android phone or iOS device, and see what tricks your child has up their sleeve.
Your PC has a secondary OS
Particularly tech-savvy kids should have no problem booting up a secondary operating system on your PC, free from any potential parental controls. If your PC asks you to choose between two operating systems on start-up (e.g. Windows 8 and Windows 10), then that’s definitely not a software error.
Of course, they could also boot up an OS from a USB stick, which wouldn’t leave such obvious traces. If you suspect your teen might be doing this, you might want to set up a BIOS or UEFI password on your PC instead.
Only mess with BIOS or UEFI settings if you’re confident you know what you’re doing. Have a tech-savvy friend or colleague set things up for you if you’ve never dabbled in advanced computer settings.
Your device has been factory reset
If your child can’t find any way to bypass your parental controls, they may go for the “nuclear option” and simply reset the device to its factory settings. If it’s a shared device, they may back things up before the reset, and restore all your data without your implemented restrictions.
Check your cloud backup history to see whether someone has recently backed up the contents of the phone. That way you know whether they’ve factory reset the device to get past parental control limits. See how to manage your mobile backups on Google Drive and iCloud.