An important question every parent should ask: Are your kids safe online?
As my kids have grown from plastic toys to tech gadgets, I am struggling to allow them to play and learn, but safely. Here are tips and tricks I have used so far (my kids are 9 & 6, so we have just begun this tech training!)
1) Common Sense Media’s website takes the guess-work out of “Is this OK for my child?” Everything from movie titles, T.V. shows, books and games can be searched to instantly get answers. The website provides suggested appropriate age, caution details (which bad words are used if any, what adult topics are discussed if any etc), and other parent reviews and comments that you can use to make your own decision for your child. This has been helpful for movie night rentals, book report selections and so many things. It is AWESOME.
2) The Internet: Many moms with babies and preschooler kids must be gasping now. But, yes, eventually kids want and will be exposed to the internet. Here is our family’s method to keep my 9-year-old safe while she is creating power point presentations for fun or homework, playing Webkinz or exploring her favorite interests, like Harry Potter. I own a Macbook. I found that Apple has great parental controls built into their laptops. I setup a user name for her as a “Kid” which allows her to only visit a preselected list of child appropriate websites (Discovery Kids, Nat’l Geographic Kids, Yahoo Jr., etc). When they try to access other web addresses or click on advertisements on the sidebar, a “You Are Not Allowed To Go Here” security white page appears, prompting the user for a pass code. If you want to allow your child to visit websites other than those on the preselected list, you can do so by individually entering your super secret parent password on that website’s page.
3) Other Tips & Cautions:
- If you are able, only let the children use the internet in your presence. My kids can only access the internet on the laptop in the kitchen, where I can easily walk around and see what the screen is on and hear the audio. If your kids are using a computer in another room, I suggest setting up a specific user-id for the kids that does not allow internet access.
- Be careful of wi-fi when you travel. Another SMB contributor shared that while in their hotel room on vacation last month, the kids were playing Minecraft on Ipads. They were using the hotel’s wi-fi and unbeknownst to her, strangers also using the hotel wi-fi could chat with and enter her kids’ Minecraft world, destroy their digital creations and converse with her girls. After she found out, ipads were quickly taken away, but the fear of what could have happened concerned her. What if a stranger typed, “What room are you in?” or “Come by room #114, I have a surprise for you.” We shudder at the possibilities.
- Research parent controls available on YouTube (another endless list of potential pitfalls), your Cable provider and Netflix. It does take time; however it’s worth the effort for peace of mind. Don’t wait, they grow older faster than you think.
What are your tips or tricks for mothers regarding kids and technology?