There are lots of ways you can minimise the dangers – both online and offline – your children can face when using technology in your home or out and about.
Most of the advice you can do today with minimal fuss. Here are ninr tips to help you get the most of our technology with your kids:
1. Age Limit Your Content – video games aren’t just for kids, nor are movies, nor are all apps. Make sure you are aware of the age rating of the content your kids are playing and that it is appropriate for them. If you are worried, you can block certain age-rated content showing up in the relevant app store, and in most cases block it from showing on the device altogether, even though you’ve bought it previously.
2. Buy a Dedicated Kids’ Tablet -–There are a number of dedicated kids’ tablets on the market. Some are cheap Android tablets with a child-friendly interface, while others are designed with kids in mind, like those from LeapFrog.
3. Look at Setting up a Guest Account – if you can’t stretch to a separate machine look at guest login features. Most of the major operating systems have them (aside from iOS), and it silos your data and lets them use apps you’ve set aside just for them.
4. Disable In-App Purchases or Turn On Family Sharing – the app might be free, but you’ll soon find after 10 minutes of playing there are way too many ways in which you are encouraged to buy more gems, or coins, or building materials for real cash. To make sure you aren’t hit with a big bill either turn off in-app purchases altogether, or if you are using the iPad or iPhone, turn on Family Sharing so you are alerted that your child is about to buy something. With the latter you can then approve it after you’ve negotiated they do their homework!
5. Social Networking and What to Share – be aware of the information you are sharing online and who you are sharing it with. A good routine to get into is to do quarterly checks on what your settings are on social networks, what apps have access, and who you are friends with. You’ll be amazed the first time you do it just how far your information is being shared. Does your old uni friend you’ve not spoken to in 10 years really need to see pictures of your kids?
6. Include Your Kids in the Conversation – you talk to your children about not talking to strangers, so talk to them about doing the same online, and using the internet or technology safely. Making them a part of the conversation will also help them understand what you are trying to do rather than just telling them they can’t have your phone today.
7. Contact Your Broadband Provider – if you are worried about them looking at content they shouldn’t on the internet at home, look at whether your broadband provider offers protection; many offer a protection feature that you can turn on, that automatically blacklists a number of sites without you having to worry. You can then also whitelist certain sites you deem okay.
8. Set Passwords for any device that can access the Internet.
9. Set Allocated Times for using technology and keep it communal. If you use your computer/phone/tablet secretively it will only encourage them to do so as well.
This article forms part of the LeapFrog Online Safety Guide.