Disclosure – post in collaboration with Wing.
My children are of an age when they want to be online like their friends. I think that the lockdown period probably hastened this but they are both asking for the latest phones and tablets for Christmas! They’ve both had tablets for a while and a few years ago my son also received a phone. I’ve written a few times about our smart home. My husband works in IT and we always seem to have the latest gadgets. So my son initially had a phone so he could control the lights and music in his bedroom.
Digital habits during lockdown
The children spent a lot of time online during the lockdown period. Much of the work they were set involved online research, and I also encouraged them to keep in touch with their friends online. At 8 and 10 they are too young for many of the social apps that are popular with my nieces. However I have to admit that they have Gmail, YouTube and Instagram accounts. I find that I can just about manage these accounts for them, and they are happy to let me keep an eye on what they are posting – just to make sure that what they post is appropriate.
The importance of kids digital and emotional health
It is so important to keep children safe online. I know it’s something that they are taught in school and it will be important that they have healthy online habits as they get older. With their internet use increasing I’ve been wondering what else I can do to keep them safe.
Wing app review
I was recently introduced to an app which parents can use to help make sure their children are safe online. Called Wing it is an app which uses AI technology to review children’s interactions on app-based accounts, like social media, email and text. Based on what it finds, Wing gives parents an insight into their children’s emotional wellbeing and raises any potential causes for concern so parents can take action if they need to.
I’ve been trying out this new app for over a month so I can tell you how it works. Firstly, Wing is compatible with both iOS and Android devices. You download the app and you can try Wing for free for 7 days. After that, it costs £6.99 per month to protect up to 5 children.
When you have signed up you can add your child and connect their accounts. The app will then analyse your child’s online content and assess the emotions attached to the content. It uses this information to build an ‘emotional landscape’, giving you an overview of how your child might be feeling. If it spots something you might need to know about – like an explicit image, or a violent message – it will alert you straight away.
Wing can connect to Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, AOL, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, WhatsApp, TikTok, Google Drive, Dropbox, Pinterest, Slack, Reddit, Tumblr, Flickr and Facebook. Some apps restrict third-party apps but it seems that the app works with most sites my children use now or in the future.
What did we think?
I thought the app was easy to use and set up. I like the fact that it started a conversation with my children about their use of the internet. As my son finishes his last year at Primary and moves to Secondary school in September I know he will be online more and connect to children I won’t know. I like the fact we can have an open and honest conversation about what he posts and hopefully set him up with healthy habits.
You can access the reports via the app or sign in to the website too. The app breaks down the information and you can pick the child, see the emotions and any threats detected in what they have posted. The threats show you a distribution of emotions (including anger, happiness, disgust, sadness and fear) which you can give feedback on. You can adjust the settings too if you want the app to be more sensitive to potential threats. If you want to check recent activity then the app will email you a report.
Wing uses AI to assess the emotions attached to the content children share online but it won’t reveal the content of a child’s interactions so I like that he can post what he wants but I will be alerted to anything that might cause him danger or trouble. Obviously he could un-install the app but I would be alerted to this!