One Step At A Time

In today’s habitually busy way of life, it can be difficult to separate a few minutes to decide what to do about online safety, never mind actually putting something in place.

In order to help with this, we’ve tried to at least start you in the right direction by laying out a few simple steps and providing the information you need to get started on it. Take it one step at a time, and let us know if you have any questions.

More Details?

If you need more details, click on any specific device below.

1. Clean

After you’ve removed unwanted applications, you’ll want to lock the device so it stays that way.

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“App” is a shortened form of the word “application.” An app is basically what you might call a “program” on a normal computer. Microsoft Word, Excel, or Powerpoint are all programs on a computer, and are also apps available for your phone.

Apps on your phone are like tools in a tool box. You might use one app for taking notes, another app for taking pictures, and a third app for browsing the internet. Just like tools, there are usually a lot of options of varying quality and usefulness, and a person might have an ever-growing list of apps that rarely get used but are ‘just right’ for one particular situation (like the Red Cross First Aid app). On the other hand, some apps, like a texting app, are used almost constantly.

Just like parents keep dangerous tools from their children, it is a good idea to keep certain apps (or maybe all of them) away from your children as well. There are also situations where it would be wise to limit or restrict the apps we can use ourselves.

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Apps on a smartphone are installed using an online “store” that lets you choose what to install and automatically manages updates. On an iPhone, it’s called the “App Store,” and on Android, it’s “Google Play.” The store allows you to select music, videos, apps, books, or other smartphone oriented content.

When open the store (you can find it among all the other apps), simply search for the app you want to install and tap the “Install” or “Get” button. Your phone will automatically download and install the app, and notify you when it’s ready.

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Removing apps is done through the phone’s settings. Look for a gear-shaped icon (they tend to change slightly from version to version) to enter the settings. Once there, look for “Applications” then “Application Manager” (Android) or “General” then “iPhone Storage” (iPhone). At this point you should see a list of apps that are installed. Find the app you would like to remove and tap on it. It should show a summary of the app’s settings and data usage, as well as buttons for uninstalling it, usually at the top. On Android, the button is called “Uninstall” and on an iPhone the button is “Delete App.”

Apple also has a shorter way of uninstalling apps. You can simply hold your finger on the app until it jiggles, then tap the “x” button that appears on the upper left of the icon. Confirm that you want to delete it, and you’re done.

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Without going into specific details, here are some categories of apps to remove or keep.

If you have questions about a particular app, Googling its name is often very helpful in discovering what it is like. For instance, if you Google the name of the fourth most downloaded app in April of 2019 (Tik Tok), you will quickly find the Wikipedia entry which describes how it was banned for inappropriate content in Indonesia and has raised concerns about sexual predators.

  • Remove or Avoid (time wasting, potential inappropriate content, or negative social influence):
    • Games
    • Social media
    • E-books (unless content is filtered)
    • Online picture/video apps (unless content is filtered)
  • Keep:
    • Misc Utilities (calculators, notes, etc)
    • Camera
    • Maps
    • Email
    • Calendar
    • School-related apps
    • Work-related apps
    • App Lockers
    • Filters
    • Accountability

2. Lock

After you’ve removed unwanted applications, you’ll want to lock the device so it stays that way.

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We recommend the App Locker named AppLock. You can find it for Android below. Apple has its own “Restrictions” that allow you to lock out certain apps.

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On Android, we’ve put together an installation and setup guide for AppLock, which you can get to by clicking the link below. On an iPhone, the ability to lock apps is built into Apple’s Restrictions function.

3. Filter

After limiting the device to just the apps you want, you still need to filter them to only allow the content you want.

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We recommend using Qustodio, a capable filter that covers several different devices and operating systems. Qustodio not only allows monitoring and filtering of internet activity and monitoring of text messages, phone calls and social media posts, but also lets you limit time on apps (as opposed to locking them entirely) and includes location tracking and panic alerts. This filtering and monitoring occurs over all of a child’s devices, and you can view all of your children’s activity on all of their devices in one spot.

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Qustodio for a smartphone is an app, and installs like any other app. For more detailed instructions, Qustodio provides tutorials as well.

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Setting up Qustodio is not as difficult as it may seem. The following PDF will guide you through installation on a PC and web setup.

4. Monitor

You can also use accountability software, which lets users monitor each other to keep tabs on online activity.

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When we set up filters and monitoring, it is often with our children in view. But children aren’t the only ones using the internet, and normal filtering practices often aren’t enough for adults. Most adults don’t want the extra restriction of a filter on their device, particularly when it interferes with work or school. This is where accountability comes in.

Accountability’s main focus is not filtering. The idea is to monitor internet use and send reports to an “accountability partner” who can review them and discuss any incorrect online behavior with you. Of course, you can use and accountability program and a filter together as well.

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We recommend a program called Covenant Eyes. Covenant Eyes uses the latest technology to inspect and monitor online activity, sending reports to accountability partners. It is available for a variety of devices and operating systems.