PBS Gives Parents More Control Over Kids’ Screens With New App

Yahoo TechMay 8, 2014

Screentime is something just about all modern parents struggle with. How much is too much? Is an app collecting personal information? Is my child actually learning?

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A new app from PBS KIDS aims to give parents better tools for controlling what their kids are doing online–at least on the PBS KIDS’ site–and eventually on PBS KIDS mobile applications too. The PBS KIDS Super Vision app lets parents enter a code from the website into their phones, and then track kids activity on the site in real time. You can see how long they’ve been watching videos, which shows they watch, what games they play and more. It also tells parents what the purpose of the games or shows are–for example one might be designed to build interest in science–and suggests activities families can do together afterwards to reinforce those goals. One of the best features, however, is a way to shut the site down altogether, remotely.

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Parents can set a play timer that will give their kids either a set amount of time, or a hard stop time to get off the computer. When that time comes, the app or video stops and kids are presented with a message prompting them that it’s time for something else–it might note that it’s bed time, for example. Best of all, it means you can monitor what your kids are up to remotely–because the app is token based, you don’t have to be on the same network or even nearby to control it.

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PBS KIDS has an amazing selection of apps and shows for children, but this is a great tool for parents. In the demo given to WIRED, the monitoring function was really well done, and the remote shut down feature was something truly novel. We’re looking forward to trying this one out. The app is free.

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