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Protecting Our Kids Online While Protecting Their Privacy From Us


Every parent has had, or will have, a moment where they aren't allowed to clean the kids room any more, where the kids don't want us to have their passwords, and where they start to look for a little more autonomy. It's perfectly natural for kids to seek increasing levels of autonomy and tropes about it go back to the dawn of the written word (and likely far further). It's often the job of the parent to gate new levels of access to that freedom with proof that the child is capable of handling the responsibility of the space we give them.


The internet is a game changer in thousands of years of parenting lessons. The internet is a vast and ever-changing resource, and it can be a great place for kids to learn and explore. However, it can also be a dangerous place, and it's important for parents to take steps to keep their kids safe online, giving increased levels of freedoms just as we've done in physical spaces for millennia.


As children grow older, it is important to give them more space. If we don't, they'll take it. Unlike titans, we can't hide them in our bellies to keep them from rebelling. This does not mean to abandon them or stop being involved in their lives. However, it does mean letting them make their own decisions and learn from their own mistakes. Here are some tips for giving your kids more space as they get older:

  • Talk to them about your expectations. Let your kids know what you expect from them in terms of behavior, schoolwork, and chores. This will help them to understand what is expected of them and to make better choices.

  • Give them a chance to make their own decisions. Don't always tell your kids what to do. Let them make their own decisions, even if you don't agree with them. This will help them to learn how to think for themselves and to take responsibility for their own actions.

  • Don't be afraid to let them fail. Everyone makes mistakes. It's important to let your kids fail so that they can learn from their mistakes and grow as individuals.

  • Be there for them when they need you. Even though you are giving your kids more space, it is still important to be there for them when they need you. Let them know that you love them and that you are always there for them, no matter what.

Giving your kids more space as they get older is an important part of parenting. It shows that you trust them and that you believe in them. It also helps them to become independent and self-sufficient adult. Most of the analogous things from the physical world then transfer online, but not all. We can see the kids playing in the yard, but we can't see their posts to social networks unless they let us. We can't protect them from threats we can't see without that telemetry, and that can be a little daunting. A few basic tips for keeping kids safe online:

  • Talk to your kids about online safety. It's important to talk to your kids about the dangers of the internet and how to stay safe. Discuss topics such as online predators, cyberbullying, and inappropriate content.

  • Set up parental controls on your devices. Parental controls can help to restrict what your kids can access online. There are a variety of parental controls available, so you can choose the ones that best fit your needs.

  • Monitor your kids' online activity. It's important to monitor your kids' online activity to make sure they're staying safe. This doesn't mean you need to be constantly checking their devices, but you should check in on them regularly.

  • Teach your kids about online privacy. It's important to teach your kids about online privacy and how to protect their personal information. This includes things like not sharing their full name, address, or phone number online.

  • Encourage your kids to be skeptical of what they see online. Not everything you see online is true, so it's important to teach your kids to be skeptical of what they see. Encourage them to think critically about the information they find online and to only trust sources that they know are reliable.

  • Help your kids develop positive online habits. Just like with anything else, it's important to help your kids develop positive online habits. This includes things like setting limits on screen time, taking breaks from the internet, and being respectful of others online.

Not all online services allow us to see what the kids are doing. In some cases, that's for the best. It's natural for them to complain about parents, especially when we make them go to bed just when they're killing it while building that monster Minecraft castle. Yet, again, we need some telemetry. One way to satisfy their need for freedom and the need for the parent to be able to see online activities is to use Parental Controls from Apple, or one of the myriad of other tools that put this information at our disposal.


Apple wants to protect the privacy of kids from parents, just as they want to protect that privacy from unwanted marketing. They also see the need for some parental controls and expose a number of APIs to the Settings app and third party developers. Parental controls allow you to restrict what your children can do on their devices, such as which apps they can use, how much time they can spend on their devices, and what websites they can visit.

To set up parental controls on your child's iPhone, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings > Screen Time.

  2. Tap on Set Up Screen Time for the name of the child who's enrolled in a family iCloud account.

  3. Enter a passcode and tap Next (don't let the kid see the passcode or they'll just disable it every time they want to do something).

  4. Follow the on-screen instructions to set up parental controls.

Here are some of the things you can do with parental controls:

  • Set time limits: You can set limits on how much time your child can spend on their device each day or week.

  • Block apps: You can block specific apps from being used on your child's device.

  • Restrict content: You can restrict what websites your child can visit and what content they can see in apps.

  • Allow or deny purchases: You can allow or deny your child from making purchases in apps or in the App Store.

  • View your child's activity: You can view your child's activity on their device, such as which apps they use, how much time they spend on their device, and what websites they visit.

Parental controls are a great way to keep your children safe online. By setting up parental controls, you can restrict what your children can do on their devices and make sure they are using their devices safely. However, there may come a time when your child is old enough to want to opt out of these controls.



Here are some things to consider when deciding if and when to allow your child to opt out of Apple's parental controls:

  • Your child's age and maturity level: If your child is young, they may not be ready to handle the responsibility of using their device without parental controls. However, if your child is older and more mature, they may be able to handle the responsibility.

  • Your child's online habits: If your child has a history of making safe and responsible choices online, they may be ready to opt out of parental controls. However, if your child has a history of making unsafe or irresponsible choices online, you may want to wait a little longer before allowing them to opt out.

  • Your own comfort level: Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to allow your child to opt out of Apple's parental controls is up to you. If you are not comfortable with the idea, you can always keep the controls in place.

If you do decide to allow your child to opt out of Apple's parental controls, it is important to have a conversation with them about online safety. Make sure they understand the risks of using the internet without parental controls and that they know how to stay safe.

Here are some tips for talking to your child about online safety:

  • Start early. It is never too early to start talking to your child about online safety. Start talking to them about it when they are young and continue the conversation as they get older.

  • Be honest. Don't sugarcoat the dangers of the internet. Be honest with your child about the risks and dangers they may face online.

  • Be positive. Don't just focus on the dangers of the internet. Talk to your child about the positive things they can do online, such as learning new things, connecting with friends, and having fun.

  • Set limits. Set limits on how much time your child can spend online and what websites they can visit.

  • Monitor their activity. Keep an eye on your child's online activity and talk to them about what they are doing online.

  • Teach them about privacy. Teach your child about online privacy and how to protect their personal information.

  • Encourage them to come to you with questions. Let your child know that they can come to you with any questions they have about online safety.

Now, if the kid is old enough to opt out, they're probably in those teenage years where they just roll their eyes at everything, so none of this might help. Also consider the carrot and stick approach. In the real world this might mean they can borrow the car more if they get an A in biology. In the online world this might mean they can have access to the Netflix account once they're able to watch the content hosted there. Or maybe they can have access to the Amazon account once they show they won't buy $8,710,622 worth of gummy bears. Many of those credentials can't be shared easily without giving access to much more than we want, even if we use a unique password on every site. Therefore, we can gate access to those shared secrets using a tool like Secret Chest.


To see more on how Secret Chest fits into your family, feel free to sign up for our public beta at www.secretchest.io.

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