There are many benefits to exposing your child to technology when managed and used properly. It is important that children are not completely removed from technology because learning how to use these devices will help them develop the skills they will need later in life, especially in their future careers. With that, families need to keep in mind the importance of internet safety.
Internet safety is a relatively new thing for parents to add to their list of things to worry about. However, due to the constant advancement of technology, parents don’t just have to worry about kids getting to problematic sites on the family computer, now they have to consider tablets, smartphones and other internet-connected devices.
What can make devices problematic is that they are so easy to use and there are multiple ways to access information. Most children will quickly learn how to access the browser feature on these devices, especially if they have experience using them to play games. You can set up your browser on your mobile device to deny access to specific online content just as you can do so on your computer, however, apps, which are cloud-based, cannot be blocked in the same way. This means any of your apps can be easily opened by your children and they can make purchases, change information and even access apps that may not be inappropriate for them to view.
There are a few ways to allow your children to use tablets and smartphones while still keeping them safe and protecting you from unwanted purchases or downloads. These solutions vary by device and may include:
Limit Access with the use of Passwords
With both Android and iOS systems, you can password-protect specific apps and features. This means that a child (or any unauthorized user for that matter) cannot access that app or feature unless they first key-in the correct password or PIN.
Prevent Unauthorized App Downloads
On the Android system as well as on Apple devices, you can download a parental control app. This provides you with controls that limit the content that an unauthorized user (such as a child) can access and it also provides a means of locking out a particular app, including your email accounts and online browser.
Prevent In-app Purchases
On all devices, you also have the option to shut off in-app purchases to prevent those unwelcome surprises from showing up on the next statement from your provider. On Apple products, this is located in the parental settings and restrictions area and on the Android system it is found under the Google Play settings. After setting up your PIN, it will need to be entered in order to make any in-app purchase.
Set House Rules
Be sure that your children understand the expectations you have of them when they are accessing the device. Families should determine what their comfort levels are regarding their children using devices. This may include where, when and how they can use devices. Families may want to set time limits on how long a child can be on their device, or they may only want children to access devices after homework is complete. Other families may only want devices used for educational and learning purposes. Determine what the comfort level is right for your family and talk to your children about your expectations.
Service providers also have programs and apps that allow you to connect all the devices that your family members have and manage them. For example, you are able to remotely access all the devices and turn them off if needed, or you can even set time restrictions on the devices to ensure your children cannot access them too late into the evening (past their bedtime) or too early in the morning.
Children and technology can be a great match and with a few safety options in place, parents can feel more comfortable allowing their children to enjoy smartphones and tablets.