Technology for parents & kids: Hints, tips, online safety strategies & more.
Whether you’re worried about social networks, texting, apps, video games, online privacy or other growing areas of high-tech concern, it bears remembering: Keeping kids safe in today’s online and always-connected world requires a multi-pronged approach. As with any form of technology, the most effective strategies are proactive. Educate yourself on new innovations and teach kids positive computing habits, and they’ll be better equipped to make good decisions when they encounter questionable content. Below, you’ll some practical tips for doing just that.
- Remember that homework is for parents too: Always study, research and go-hands on with new technologies to make more informed decisions.
- If time’s tight, get a crash course on new offerings, trends and features by visiting popular product review sites or searching for online tutorials, e.g. “How to Turn Off iPhone Purchases.”
- Besides employing kid-friendly software, apps and web filters, educate children on online dangers and encourage them to speak up when questionable content or situations are encountered.
- Use the parental controls built into popular entertainment devices, video game consoles and operating systems, and password-protect your settings – but don’t employ easily guessable choices like birthdays and anniversaries.
- Activate privacy features built into popular social networks to limit strangers’ access to personal status updates, photos and videos.
- Confine screens to common household areas such as playrooms and dens, so usage and play habits can be monitored.
- Establish predetermined times when usage of high-tech devices is permitted or banned (e.g. during dinner), and always shut screens off at least one hour before bedtime.
- Create and enforce house rules: Experts recommend no more than 60-120 minutes of screen time daily, balanced with other low-tech activities. Some families add or subtract time as a reward or punishment for children’s behavior.
- If you’re worried about children’s online interactions, use programs’ and devices’ built-in features to turn off Internet connectivity, disenable digital purchases and restrict interactions to pre-approved friend lists.
- Talk about safe online spending, and if you allow kids to make purchases, consider restricting these abilities to prepaid cards.