When it comes to a family’s technology, children are often in the lead. They are the ones showing their parents a new app or adding the latest tablet to their wish list. With tablets becoming cheaper and educational games booming, even the littlest family members are jumping online to play in the digital world.
Touchscreen tablets have opened the internet up for young children. According to the latest OfCom survey, the number of children ages 3-4, who use a tablet has risen to over half (53%). The number of preschoolers who have their own tablet has also increased to 15%.
At this age, few parents feel it is necessary to start talking about Internet safety. Most parents believe their children are simply too young. The digital world is an all ages venue and it is far too easy for little ones to stumble upon inappropriate content.
After deciding to give a child access to a tablet, parents should take some time to childproof these devices. Limits are important, especially for young kids. If a child is not ready for an R rated movie, they are not ready for unlimited access to the World Wide Web. However, controls alone will not teach kids digital life skills. It is never too early to introduce a few simple safety rules.
If your child has a tablet, here are 6 digital parenting tips to keep them safe online.
Install child safety filters
Families keep their home safe by installing child safety latches. They should keep their digital home safe by installing internet safety filters. Depending on the device, parents can set up settings, in the browser. Instead of setting up separate controls, parents can also choose to install parental monitoring controls, such as Familoop Safeguard, that allows families to manage protection settings on all their kids’ devices.
Download age appropriate apps
With over 1.5 million apps available on GooglePlay or iTunes, families may discover finding an educational age appropriate app is like finding a needle in a haystack. There are a number of excellent games and apps geared toward this age group. GooglePlay marks these with a family star to indicate the appropriate age and iTunes has an educational app section. If parents are still having trouble finding acceptable apps, many websites review and recommend apps for youngsters.
Turn off inapp purchases
Free games are not always free. In a free game, kids can accidently spend real money by purchasing special powers or a magical sword. These purchases are called in-app purchases. Parents can change the settings in GooglePlay and iTunes to prevent kids from these purchases. In Google Play, parents can require entering a password before making in app purchases. In iTunes, parents can disable in-app purchases in their device settings under Restriction as well as require a password to make purchases from iTunes.
Create a home for the tablet
The first few days, parents may find it impossible to separate their child from the tablet. This happens with most new toys. If their eyes are affixed to the screen weeks later, it is time to establish some screen free time. There are a few ways to separate a youngster from their device. One is to establish a bedtime for all devices. Parents can keep chargers in a designated area and have their kids tuck in their device for the night. Another option is for everyone to put away his or her device during meals.
Post a Family Internet Policy
Once they can hold a device, parents should begin teaching them about how to navigate the digital world safely. At school, kids work with their teacher to develop a set of rules for how to treat each other in the classroom. Parents can use their kids’ classroom rules as inspiration for their family internet policy. At our house, we developed a few rules around how to behave online based upon their school rules of Be Safe, Be Respectful, and Be Responsible.
Play with them
This age group learns by observing. They master how to navigate the digital world by watching their parents play with an app or check email. Parents should take some time to show them the digital ropes. While surfing the web or playing with an app, parents can narrate what they are doing and encourage their kids to ask questions about what they see. By modelling appropriate online behavior, parents can show kids how to lead a healthy digital life.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.