What do I need to Secure?

In Brief

Media is increasingly being consumed through online services. These services offer a wide range of content—from kids to adult. Parental controls, which allow you to filter content, are often available but need to be activated. Parental controls need to be enabled on each device or service: from TVs to tablets. If a device has access to multiple services, then parental controls for will need to be activated for each service.


How we consume media such as TV shows, movies, and music has changed radically.    We're now watching through online services such as Netflix, iTunes, or Hulu.  A number of streaming media devices or set top boxes are now available that pull content from the Internet.  You can watch that content on your computer, TV, tablet, or phone.

As a parent, this explosion of media channels may seem overwhelming and daunting.  Where do you begin?  The good news is that parental controls available for many of these channels.

Parental controls help moderate the kinds of movies, TV shows, and music that can be played or accessed on certain devices.   The bad news is that you need to enable parental controls for them to work.  A password is normally required to disable or bypass parental controls after they are activated.  The kinds of devices that have  built-in parental controls are TVs, computers, cell phones (like the iPhone), streaming media services (like iTunes or Netflix), and music players.  Some parental control solutions work better than others.  Its best to think of parental control solutions like your helper.  They're never a substitute for you and they are never a substitute for involved parenting;  so never consider them a foolproof solution.

Devices to Secure

Thinking about where to start is daunting.  To help, we've prepared a list of things to be aware of in your home (and at the home of friends and neighbors).  We'll then note options you may or may not have when it comes to parental controls for that specific kind of device or service.

Looking at this list, you'll start to be amazed at all the different devices that you may need to be attentive to.   We suggest you create a written inventory of the specific things you find in your home.  Write down the manufacturer or vendor along with the specific model of the device to help you stay organized.  If you want to enable parental controls, please refer to each item's user manual for for specific details.  If you don't have a user manual, don't worry.  Most companies now have all their user manuals available online.  You can also call their support number for more information.

Parental Controls: To enable or Not Enable

Ok, let's be up-front: parental controls aren't always convenient.  Not all parental controls are user friendly.  In many instances (like a TVs V-Chip) parental controls are annoying that many don't use them.  

However, even though some parental control options are far from perfect, we still suggest that you secure all child-accessible media devices.  Enabling parental controls gives you additional peace of mind and might prevent your child from coming into contact with pornographic content or strangers online.  Always remember, if a device is able to connect to the Internet, then it has access to web sites, social networks, chat rooms, and other services that you may not be aware of.  Your child's safety is worth a little inconvenience.