If you wouldn't let a stranger watch your kid, why would you surrender their online safety to an algorithm?
Let’s be honest. Algorithms are a pain.
Why are we shown ads for a $200 pair of pants and not the Instagram post about our friend’s baby? Why is the stuff we want buried beneath suggested TikTok videos we don’t care about?
Now, we know. “Blame the algorithm” is our go-to response whenever our social media feeds get messed up. We just want to see some funny dog videos, not random content!
Yet, the truth about algorithms is they do so much more than cause frustration on social media.
They’re in every area of our online lives and that can be a big problem.
Algorithms are inherently skewed systems.
They may be designed to make our lives better, but they’re not foolproof. They can be deeply flawed based on who builds them, how they’re developed, and how they’re used. With the code locked away in black boxes (and no regulations to make sure they’re used for GOOD), algorithms guide our choices in ways that we can’t control.
There’s even a name for this!
It’s called algorithmic bias.
They create filter bubbles, limit our choices and our creativity, lead to and perpetuate bias, and increase inequality and unemployment.
Now, here’s the deal with other parental control apps.
When you install these apps on your kid’s phone, they “run quietly in the background in search of issues that might indicate that something is wrong in your child’s online world… [with] algorithms that detect potential risks, so you don’t have to comb through every post and text.”
(Yes, this is an exact quote from one of these apps selling parental controls!)
Yet, we just established that algorithms are far perfect, even down right harmful.
That begs the question:
Why would you trust all your kid’s online safety to an algorithm?
These parental control apps are built on inherently skewed systems and it’s your family that will be affected. Telling you differently is just barking up the wrong tree.
Let’s break this down a little more.
Parental controls are like trusting a stranger to protect your kid.
You just got home from a long day at work to find a stranger sitting on your couch. They’ve been watching your kid’s every movement the entire time. Even worse, they won’t let you speak to your kid directly. This stranger stands in your way, only letting you hear the things they feel are important.
This is EXACTLY what parental controls do.
They observe, gather, and analyze the data on your kid’s phone and run it through an algorithm.
That algorithm pushes out alerts, deciding FOR YOU what you can and can’t see.
They maintain full control over what happens to your kid’s data after it’s analyzed.
In other words, your ability to decide what is or isn’t harmful to your kid has been ripped away. The algorithm built into these parental controls makes the choice for you.
Are you willing to take it on good faith they have your best interest at heart?
But, that’s not the worst of it.
Parental controls are like accepting a piggyback from a stranger.
Remember jumping on your friend’s back for a piggyback ride as a kid? It was fun but let’s face it.
You weren’t in charge of your destination. Not even a little bit!
You could only hang on as your friend decided where to go. Even though you weren’t in control, you didn’t have to worry because you could trust them not to take you somewhere dangerous.
Now, imagine a stranger offering to give you a piggyback ride.
You have no idea who they are and if you accept that piggyback, you’ve given them complete control over where they can take you.
Sound like a true crime podcast waiting to happen? Sure does!
This is what parental controls do when gathering your kid's online activity.
To collect and analyze your kid’s data, these solutions rely on data portability. If you’ve never heard the phrase, you’re not alone.
In non-technical terms, parental control apps use data portability to:
Piggyback social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and access the personal data collected by those platforms.
Pull this personal data into their own monitoring system.
Store this information before running it through their algorithm to generate the alerts they send you.
Here’s the big problem.
The exchange isn’t open.
Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter only give parental controls the ability to see to certain parts of the information they’ve collected.
Platforms like Omegle, NGL, and Wickr (where online predators abound!) give zero access to parental controls that attempt to see into them.
In other words, the parental controls that are supposed to keep your kid safe online have very limited access to what’s actually going on (if they have any access at all). No matter how good the app, as long as it relies on data portability, it’ll always be subject to the rules and whims of the specific apps it’s piggybacking.
In other words, they’ve accepted that piggyback ride from a stranger. They’re headed somewhere but they have no control over the journey or final destination.
Thought we were done with the bad news?
Sorry, it gets worse.
Imagine accepting that ride from a stranger only to find out you both have to be blindfolded.
Even if they’ve decided to take you someplace safe, they won’t see bumps in the path until they’ve tripped and thrown you off. Because your blindfold prevents you from seeing the danger, you’ll smash into the ground and become one giant mess.
Parental controls on your kid’s phone are the same.
Let us explain.
Kids are clever. We know this! Social media platforms introduce changes intended to catch negative content and within a few days, kids have found a way around it by using a special slang called “algospeak” to evade content restrictions.
Here are just a few examples of algospeak in action and their real-world meanings:
the “ABC” diet = Anorexia Bootcamp Diet
“Seggs” or “S3X” = sex
and many more
If social media platforms don’t adapt to the new “algospeak”, they’ll miss that negative content and allow it to be posted.
As parental controls take in that content passed off from these platforms and run it through their algorithms, they’ll miss it too because they haven’t kept up with every single little workaround.
Self-harm posts. Explicit content. Drug phrases.
That negative content will pass through two different screens and make its way to your kid.
Because parental controls have complete authority over what you can and can’t see, it’ll go unflagged and you’ll miss it too.
It’s like flying blind and your kid's the one at risk.
All right, time for a deep breath.
You don’t have to suffer through this anymore.
The Aqua One is the solution that cuts clean through the mess.
1) Only you have access to your kid’s data.
We ditched an algorithm and built a pipeline. Whenever your kid uses their Aqua One, that activity flows into your Parent Dashboard, uninterrupted. There isn’t an algorithm or team of people reaching into flow of your kid's data to analyze what they’re doing. EVER.
What happens on your kid’s Aqua One stays between you and them. Just like it should be.
2) Say goodbye to blind spots. Nothing is hidden from you.
We got rid of the darkness and turned on the lights in every area of your kid’s digital world. With Aqua One's Parent Dashboard, checking in on your kid is as easy as scrolling your social media feed.
Every single action they take on their Aqua One is displayed in your Parent Dashboard. By simply clicking on the app you want to view, you can watch everything your kid did.
No more worrying about what your kid was doing on TikTok at 3am. Just hop onto the “Activity” section of your Parent Dashboard, click the TikTok icon, and see a mirrored version of everything they saw or did on the app. Literally everything.
Instead of deciding what’s important for you, we’ve given you the ability to see everything. No more flying blind. You’re in the driver’s seat.
So, can we agree?
When it comes to keeping your kid safe online, trusting parental controls is barking up the wrong tree. Or as wise as accepting a piggyback from a stranger.