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Why “Controlling Your Children Internet Access” is Not Effective?

Written by: Jessie Liew, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


The pandemic has changed the way our children approach their learning journey.

It was true for me, as in March 2020, when my government announced a lockdown in my country. School has pivoted to online classrooms to continue the children's learning journey.

online class

Many children are given access to electronic devices to do online classes. Children are spending at least 4 to 12 hours daily on electronic devices in 2020 and 2021. It is hard to divert their attention from electronic devices, as children cannot go for outdoor activities.

Now in April 2021, coronavirus cases remain high in many countries. Schools have been re-opened. But, it may be changed depending on the COVID-19 cases.

It seems that online learning is going to stay for 2021.

Most parents passed the electronic devices to their children without figuring what internet habits they want to shape.

On the other side, most apps are designed to get the person to come back to the apps as much as they can.

Apps developers and companies are finding ways to hook their clients to keep coming back to their apps.

The purpose is to influence consumer behavior and subsequently use events to form the desired habits in their clients. The desired habits are the habits that these app companies desire.

If you look at the “Hooked” model by Nir Eyal, Hooked consist of 4 events which are:

  1. Trigger,

  2. Action,

  3. Variable, Reward, and

  4. Investment.

Credit: Nir Eyal, Hooked Model

Let’s look at Facebook; you will realize how these events work to shape your habit.

  • Trigger (External trigger). Notification from Facebook that your friend has commented on your pictures, Internal Trigger — the feeling of boredom and curiosity on the comment that your friend has left)

  • Action. You will click Facebook apps and look at the comment that your friend left.

  • Variable Reward. Your friend commented about how he likes the post— your reply to his comment. You then continue to scroll down the Facebook newsfeed. You would not know what you will see. So there are uncertainty and curiosity about what you will see next.

  • Investment. Your post is getting more and more likes. You are counting how many likes and loves you get. You felt happy and continue to crave more likes. As your post is liked or commented on, Facebook will send you a notification again (external trigger comes in again and forms the HOOK).

If we are so "hooked" with the apps, can you imagine it for children?

When you do not plan for your children's internet habits, someone else will plan it for you.

The first step to habit changing is awareness.

Most parents do when it comes to their children, and the Internet is to install parental control software and hope the software can take care of it.

If you’re like me, I’m sure you’ve heard of the “Control Your Children’s Internet Access” approach to protect your children from Internet Danger?

We all know that “Control Your Children’s Internet Access” is the most effective way to set your children up for the Internet so that they can stay safe from Internet Dangers.

But the problem is, they are difficult to set up and require some knowledge of internet safety and technologies.

They also do not set a goal for families to define how Internet Safety success looks like.

They do not take into consideration when somethings go wrong during your children’s internet journey.

They aren’t even guaranteed to protect your children from Internet Dangers.

If you’re like me, I’m sure you’ve heard of the “Control Your Children’s Internet Access” approach to protect your children from Internet Danger?

Here’s where parents get in serious trouble with this “Control Your Children Internet Access” model.

They’ll start installing parental control software, hoping the software will “protect” their children from Internet Dangers.

In theory, this model works.

But as you are well aware, theory and practice are two very different things.

This is dangerous, potentially catastrophic when just focusing on controlling your children’s internet access, and here’s why.

Here’s why “Controlling Your Children Internet Access” is not effective:

  • You installed a filter to the children’s internet access, not knowing what the internet dangers you need to tackle are.

  • You installed the software and set the settings as recommended by the software without a goal. (Tips: What are the desired internet safety habits you want to instill in your children?)

  • You have no idea if your children’s internet activities are OK, even though you can check their internet activities.

  • You have no idea how and what to teach your children about internet safety and how to get them involved in practicing internet safety habits.

  • You’re hoping and praying you can “protect” your children from Internet Dangers with these parental controls software.

  • You are confronting your children about their Internet activities, which creates conflict in the family.

  • Your children feel that you do not trust them.

  • Your children feel that you invaded their privacy.

I have a friend who has installed parental control on her daughter’s electronic devices. She configured the downtime of these devices from 9 PM to 7 AM. She even has access to her daughter’s Instagram.

At the dinner table, she confronted her daughter about spending too much time on electronic devices, and she claimed that she uses them for homework. Her daughter even added, “Well, daddy also use it for work right, so why can’t I use it for my study and discuss with my school friends.”

One of the days, her mum confronted her post on Instagram. She said, “it is rude to post like this.” However, the daughter ignored her.

Imagine you have installed the most expensive and comprehensive alarm system in your home.

Can you rely on this alarm system to protect your home?

You need someone to configure the systems and make sure it is functioning well.

It also means installing the alarm sensor in the right place.

You also need to make sure people turned on the alarm system when the person is getting out of the house.

When your children are inside the house with the alarm turned on, a stranger press the bell and said: “I got a parcel for your dad.”

Will your children disarm the system and allow the stranger to come in?

Here, shaping the proper internet safety habits, having conversations on their internet activities, and educating Internet Safety your children is important.

Despite setting parental controls on their children electronic devices, parents still find that these children internet habits are a concern for them, such as:

  • My child spends too long on their smartphone/tablet

  • My child has been caught sexting

  • My child has shared their personal information on social media

  • My child has a social media account, but they are under 13

  • My child is using many social media platforms, and I am not sure how to keep them safe

  • My child has been groomed online

  • My child is being cyberbullied

  • My child is self-harming

  • My child has been radicalized online

  • Other people are posting pictures of my child online without permission.

The unfortunate truth is that the choice to use parental controls undermines the trust in your relationship with your children.

It reduces your children’s opportunities to make smart choices and to take responsibility for their actions.

For some families, putting restrictions on devices when your children are old enough to know that there is a world beyond those restrictions will pretty much guarantee that your children will find a way to bypass those restrictions.

Sounds pretty risky, right?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have any window opportunity to get my children involved with Internet Dangers.

I want to make sure that my children can use the internet positively, learning, communicating, and getting entertainment.

I want to make sure my children have the right internet safety habits, coupled with the right knowledge and decision-making skills so that they can protect themselves from internet dangers.

What about you?

In the next post, I will reveal the system that works for digital parenting your children.

If you would like help with reducing your children’s screen addiction and improving your relationship with them, join my free Facebook group to get immediate access to all of my free training.

If you would like 1:1 coaching with me to help you reduce your children’s screen addiction and improve your relationship with them, book a free strategy call with me here.


Jessie Liew, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Jessie Liew is a Digital Parenting Coach. As a cybersecurity expert, a mother of 4, she also has to face the same task as all parents, which is rearing safe & responsible digital citizens.

We are living in a digital era, and hence we need new skills to parent our children.

She’s been working in the cybersecurity field for more than 14 years. She also holds professional certifications in Cyber Security (CISSP, CRISC, and CISA). She has been able to shape the companies’ employees' internet habits as well as in her own children.

Her Mission: Empower Parents to nurture their children to use the Internet and technologies in a positive way while staying safe on the Internet. This builds the foundation of our future Digital Citizens. She is looking for parents or educators who want to nurture their children to be responsible digital citizens and build a great relationship with their children.



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