When it comes to protecting your children online and on social media, no safety app is better than having an open and healthy dialog about digital safety. However, some monitoring apps can help parents start a dialog with their kids. unGlue is a great tool that helps your family with screen time. We sat down with Alon Shwartz, co-founder and CEO of unGlue as well as a father of three, to talk about screen time and online safety since screen time is such a hot issue right now.
Is unGlue available on Android and iOS?
Yes. unGlue is really an overall solution. It works on Android, iPhones, and any WIFI connected devices at home from computers to tablets to Kindle, Xbox, or smart TV. We encourage parents to start with their kid’s smartphones because it is the easiest one to start and is also the most addictive device that they have, but it works across everything. –Alon Shwartz, unGlue.com
What are some of the issues that you see with technology and our kids?
Technology, as a whole, is great and I think that is important for us to establish first and foremost. No one is against technology. I run a technology company. Technology is a part of our life. The challenge is how you balance it with other activities that are happening and how do you deal with distractions. For example, my 18-year-old son is driving and I am worried that he is going to look at his phone while he is driving. It is hard because every time the phone buzzes or makes a sound, you want to check it and see what is going on. –Alon Shwartz, unGlue.com
You are the only safety app that is truly going to wake up in the middle of the night and protect your kids. –Josh Ochs
I am always telling people that the only safety app that truly loves your kids is you, parents. You have to talk to your kids. You must be the most educated you can be because you are the only safety app that is truly going to wake up in the middle of the night and protect your kids. –Josh Ochs, SafeSmartSocial
What are some common tactics that parents are using to manage screen time in addition to using the unGlue and similar time management apps?
We live in a time where we do not buy anything, we just click Amazon Prime. We have everything delivered to us. It’s great, but we almost try to outsource parenting through apps. It doesn’t work this way. I do want to share one app that I think is important though and it is called Bark and what they do is allow you to monitor your kid’s social media. It is a listening service and it will only let you see what they see. If they see anything negative or about a heavy topic such as sex or drugs, they will alert you. It does allow you to give your kid’s privacy by not viewing their private posts, but it allows you to monitor all public posts. –Alon Shwartz, unGlue.com
What are some other advice and tips on screen time?
It is important to talk to your kids. –Alon Shwartz
It’s really all about education and about dialogue. If you want to know more about the newest app, ask your kid. Instead of putting out a Google search, I ask my kids. I asked my daughter about the Snapchat streaks feature and in 10 minutes she had explained everything to me. To put this in perspective, she is 11. So I think it is important to talk to your kids. –Alon Shwartz, unGlue.com
Parental control and outsourcing it. Where is that failing and what can we do to fix that?
I believe that parental control, that whole concept, is the biggest mistake in parenting in modern history. I am not saying it just for fun. It is the biggest mistake because if you look at what parenting is, it is about teaching our kids how to think on their own but guiding them and helping them to make the right decisions. It is about teaching them good habits and leading by example. Parental control is telling us that it is all about you, the parent, controlling your kids and that it’s not about the kids. And when you turn off the Internet, you are stopping the supply but you are not doing anything to temper their demand. So really, you are not teaching them anything. –Alon Shwartz, unGlue.com
What do you tell a parent when they ask you, “When can I give my kids Snapchat? When can I give my kids a phone?”
The real answer is “Whenever you feel it is the right age,” but have a manual and an agreement with them. Have a plan with them. Do not just give them the phone and say “Good luck.” –Alon Shwartz, unGlue.com
What do you think about parents having passwords to their kid’s phones?
I do not believe parents should rely on spy software. –Alon Shwartz
I do believe that parents should have the passcode to their kid’s phone. I also believe that parents should have the passwords to all their kids social media apps BUT in a sealed envelope. This way if something bad happens and you need to go in and check what happened, you can. However, I do not believe parents should rely on spy software, secretly reading their kids’ text messages and social media feeds, surprise inspection, and other spyware. First it breaks the trust between them and their kid’s, second it falsely makes parents feel secured to know they can check but in reality, rarely do, and third parents use these apps as an excuse to not having a real conversation. –Alon Shwartz, unGlue.com