Is there a “safe mode” for my kid’s favorite app?

By: Neil Mitchell

Most parents search online for a safe mode, but they should look instead for the parental control options in the app’s safety center.

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Staying home to remain safe during the coronavirus epidemic has increased our online and mobile activity. One of the biggest spikes has been in teens’ social media use, which increased 55% in March according to Magid’s COVID-19 Pulse Study.

This has led to concern among many parents about staying safe in another way— ensuring that our kids are safe online and on their mobile devices.

As parents get more day-to-day exposure to their kids’ favorite apps, they may also be looking for an easy safety solution—a “safe mode.” But it’s not always that simple. Safe modes certainly exist on some platforms. Most of us are familiar with age and rating filters on our favorite streaming services. Many of today’s most popular apps, however, are more complex. This is particularly the case with social apps like TikTok, Snap and YouTube.

To address these complexities, most major apps and sites have a “safety center”—a full suite of information and control tools to encourage safety for its community. Whether you’re looking to block unwanted contact, report offensive or abusive content or set a profile to an age-appropriate level on YouTube, these safety centers direct you to the right solution. They also help you get a better understanding of the app’s commitment to safety and security.

Here are few examples of safety centers for some of today’s most widely used apps:

Of course, conversation remains one of the best tools for online safety. Talking to your kids about their favorite apps will give you knowledge about their activity, an understanding of their favorite apps and what risks there may be. You may be surprised to realize that your kids are already aware of these safeguards. Maybe these tools aren’t so definitively “parental” controls anymore.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Magid has provided valuable insights on consumer behaviors and attitudes across the media landscape. For more results, read the Consumer Impact of COVID-19 report.

About the author:

Neil Mitchell is media consultant, focused on digital and online safety. He has been working with Verizon on online safety issues for over a decade.


Verizon's Parenting in a Digital World Portal publishes articles from a diverse set of authors with expertise across the digital safety spectrum. Contributors to the Portal are compensated by Verizon for their work.

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