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By Courtenay R. Hall

Parental controls are useful.

We live in an age where electronics rule our lives. As much as I hate to admit it, I am right along with everyone else. From my smartphone, to my Kindle, to my laptop, smart television, etc. How can we resist though? They make everything so easy: banking, paying bills, catching up on your favorite TV shows, even ordering food. Have a question then search engines like Google and Bing are right at your fingertips. It makes arguing with my husband quick and painless over who that actor is on screen. And, like most other kids, mine know how to use all of these devices, and they learned at a very young age. A friend of mine once referred to her Kindle as an electronic babysitter when she needed a breather or was a little under the weather. At the time it made me laugh but I have thought about that comment a few times.

Thank goodness for parental controls, which I have taken advantage of since my children have gotten their own Kindles and are able to navigate the smart TV by themselves. Like a lot of people, we have given up our satellite dish and opted for streaming services such as Amazon Prime, Netflix and Hulu. It is cheaper and seems to suit our family just fine. My kids like to watch the same things over and over so who needs 30 channels when we only watch three programs. I use the parental controls on Amazon Prime not only to block content from my children but also to stop them from purchasing unwanted items. When we first got the service I didn't have the controls enabled and my son decided he wanted to buy every "Sanjay and Craig" episode they had on Amazon. I laugh now but at the time it was expensive. Now I have the parental controls enabled so I have to put in a password to make any kind of purchase through my TV. It has been a life-saver because we also unknowingly purchased a season of "Team Umizoomi" that my daughter snuck in.

My children are also lovers of watching YouTube on their Kindles. They like to watch the kids playing with toys, episodes of their favorite shows and people playing their video games. I use the parental controls on there to block unwanted content from my kids. YouTube can kind of be a shady place if you don't watch what your children are doing. Kindle also offers great parental controls for Free Time. It allows you to block unwanted content from your child's Kindle. It also has you set a password to keep them from certain apps that you might not want them on at the time. You can also set up time limits for each app. Maybe they have unlimited access to their learning apps and books, but you only want them to watch 60 minutes of video. Free Time also has a subscription you can buy for a monthly fee that allows unlimited access to kid-friendly books and apps. Not all parental controls are foolproof. You need to do your job as a parent and keep an eye on what your children are up to, but having parental controls can help give any parent a little peace of mind.

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