Are you thinking of buying a new digital device for a child this holiday season? Possibly an iPad, iPod, Smart Phone or some other mobile device? What sort of things should you consider when choosing your device and setting it up so that it is safer for your child?
Note: I said safer…no device that connects to the internet is absolutely safe for a child, even with supervision. However, you can certainly minimise a lot of risk for your children by enabling some safety settings and implementing some ideas to help keep them and their device much safer.
What are your options?
Most digital mobile devices have settings and controls on them to limit your child’s exposure to adult content. Apple certainly lead the way with their “Restrictions” (Parental Controls) Androids are mostly available on the Google Play store and in apps.
Apple also now have a Family Sharing Account. This account can be shared with 6 family members, meaning you can supervise all your child’s purchases through the apple store, and set it up to approve. It also means that you can share new apps across all the families devices, saving money. Go here to read more about Apples Family Sharing.
Some Android devices allow you to set up separate accounts one for adults and one for kids, with “Multi User Login” very convenient if the family is sharing the mobile device. Your decision will be based on your needs, and what the rest of the family is using. Gaming consoles like Xbox and Sony Playstation also have internet access, and have parental controls.
Protect Against Accidents And Wear And Tear
Children can be very enthusiastic with their digital devices, seeing them as a toy rather than an expensive tool. You won’t get a replacement if your child drops their mobile device, or drenches it with a hose. Some simple things you can do to keep your child’s devices crack and water free are:
- Put a clear screen protector on the device to guard against scratches.
- Put a protective cover on the device, but don’t get a cheap one, pay a bit more to get a cover that actually protects any device if it falls. The best kind of cover will protect the corners of the device with a soft bumper, and a cover with a built in screen cover that folds over the screen will give it even better protection. Most bad screen cracks happen when a device falls and hits the ground on its corner. You can buy some waterproof cases for phones, some mobile phone case stores will sell these.
- If your child takes a phone or iPod to school, buying a hard case to put it in will go a long way to protecting the phone from being jumped on….yes school bags get jumped on, resulting in a cracked screen. You could buy a hard camera case, or buy a case built for a smart phone or iPod that has mini speakers for the phone as well (Smuggle stores sell them).
- Make sure you child knows which school bag pocket is the safest to store the phone, and make sure they are aware of potential theft. Are there School lockers with secure locks at school to store them in? For younger children you can attach the phone with a lanyard string to their school bag so that is has less likelihood of being “lost” or stolen.
- Set up your child’s device with a “Screen Lock” password So that your child’s device is secure and can’t be used by other children. Make sure you also know the password. Instructions for Apple Device’s go to – Settings/Passcode/Turn Passcode On. For Android – Settings/Security/Screen Security. Windows go to settings see here for more.
- To help locate lost devices with location services, enable the “Find My Phone/iPod/iPad” app iDevices – Settings/iCloud/Find My Phone – Android has a similar app you can install.
- Set up parental controls so that your child must ask for your password to change things on the device or add new apps. See here for tips:
- Disable internet browsers for younger children on their mobile devices. For older children you can filter the content they can search for, with parental controls. See tips for Safari and Google Safe Search.
- Delete any apps that have adult content. For older children enable safe search in YouTube if you want them to use YouTube. Check the age ratings for each app on the iTunes store, (note: some are strangely rated, Facebook is rated 4+ on iTunes but it’s terms of service says 13+) Google Play’s ratings are only approximate. Check the app’s suitability on www.commonsensemedia.org
- Make sure you know where the text message/call blocking tool is on your child’s device. See here for iDevices, Android have apps available.
- Set up safety/privacy settings on Skype and iMessage Instructions Here:
- Disable In-App Purchases so that your child won’t buy “in-game” add on’s which can ad up to hundreds of unexpected dollars!
- Get some tips for how families can balance screen time hours wise and activity wise!
Get All The Tips And More With Step By Step Instructions!
Finally, if you want all these great tips and even more advice to help you this holiday season, purchase my “Keeping Kids Safe Online” Manual from this very website! It also contains many more safety settings for PC’s and mobile devices. It also includes advice for parents on “Minecraft”, and the online gaming store “Steam” (kids can download their games from steam, which does have some family controls, if you enable them. The manual also advises on some great family friendly video games that you can all play together this holidays!
Encourage your children to explore their digital lives creatively and wisely, and have a safe and happy holiday!