Whether we like it or not, the kids of today are going to grow up with technology and will likely be more dependent on them than we ever did during our time. With technology more accessible and especially with cheaper options, it is a reality shared by most parents that kids will get to know mobile phones, computers, and tablets before they even speak. Childproofing the home in this age of technology is no longer enough but there are steps that parents can take to protect their kids online as well.
1Protect Device from Bumps & Bruises
Mobile devices are valuable because they can do a lot of things but they are known for being notoriously breakable that they break after a few drops, falls, and other forms of physical damage. To ensure that your gadgets survive a little rough tumble from the hands of your kids, protect them with covers that are sturdy enough to withstand accidents and serious impacts. There is a vast collection of iPad cases, tablet covers, smartphone casing, and many more that are made with durable material available in many stores so pick one up as soon as you have a new gadget.
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2Set Ground Rules
It is important for kids to know that using gadgets is a privilege, not a right. And abusing it— which can result in it being broken— will earn punishment either by grounding them or by taking the device away completely. Enforce a set of specific rules to ensure that they know the value of the device, how to treat things that aren’t theirs with respect, and how using it properly will extend its lifetime and their chances of using it. Some examples of ground rules include: setting a specific time, not using it during mealtimes, only allowing it to be used in the living room, and more.
3Turn Parental Controls On/Privacy Settings
Remember to activate and set the parental controls and privacy settings of any gadget your kid is borrowing to ensure that they can explore and browse the world wide web safely and away from prying eyes. Setting restrictions on mobile devices is just as important as teaching kids how to lock all doors when they are home alone. They should also know that their digital freedom is finite and it is for their own good and protection. While not all parental controls or privacy settings can guarantee absolute security, it is recommended that parents encourage children to talk to them when they encounter something upsetting online.
4Check Downloaded Apps from Time to Time
There are some apps that are not age-appropriate for children so always keep an eye on the apps that have been downloaded on the mobile device. It is recommended to openly communicate with your children for when they ask why some apps have been removed and why they were inappropriate. If you prefer to remotely check your child’s activity, there are several child-tracking apps that keep track of online activity, GPS, messaging, and other features.
5Take Advantage of Passwords
If you absolutely must have a certain app on the device for work or for other things, set a password protection so that children can’t access it on their own. Passwords can also be used to restrict downloads on a device especially for apps and games that require money. It is important to note that strong passwords not only protect personal information, it can also be a way of keeping you in control over the device.
6Discuss Online Safety Early with Children
Parents can put all the safety precautions, privacy settings, security apps and more but personally discussing online safety with their children should be a priority. It is best to be with them as parents try to teach them about the safe and unsafe things that are on the internet. It should be a learning experience for the little ones for when they get older, and do things independently that it becomes second nature for them to protect themselves such as using different passwords for each account and so on. Communication is key and getting parents to be more open and approachable will get children to come to them easier when they encounter any kind of difficulties online.
Nowadays, children are allowed to have tablets, smartphones, and computers because it is used to communicate with their parents. Some schools have also gone digital and integrated these devices into the curriculum so it is a tool for learning as well. Safety is a priority but sometimes limiting access to the World Wide Web might be a hurdle in their curiosity, ability to learn, and self-expression. Fortunately, there are cyber security methods mentioned above that allow them to explore without completely taking away their digital freedom. Do you have online safety methods you want to share? Tell us below.