Child-Safe Usage of Smartphones & Tablet Devices
The idea for this blog post came to me on Christmas Day. I was at my local Church’s Christmas Day Children’s Service. On Christmas morning our Priest likes to ask the children in the congregation what Santa had brought them. The kids (and parents!) love this part of the service, which is now a tradition.
Unsurprisingly many of the children, particularly those aged around 7 or 8 upwards had received either Smartphone or Tablet devices or some sort of Wifi enabled device.
This got me thinking about guidance and advice for parents around safe and positive use as while technology is fantastic and our children’s’ grasp of it amazing, many parents out there are leaving their children exposed to the more dangerous elements of technology such as Cyber Bullying. I decided to take some time over the Christmas Period and jot down some useful advice and safety tips for those parents who gave their kids internet connected devices for Christmas with little thought, awareness or understanding of the door they are opening for their children into the online world.
As a Parent myself I feel it is so important that when allowing our children to use technology we use some common sense. As Parents we need to understand that the technology, which we are allowing our children to use, is neutral. It’s how it’s being used which can cause the issues and problems connected with CyberBullying. Children need to be educated about the dangers of being online and on positive use to ensure they communicate safely and positively. Just as they’re warned not to talk to strangers outside, they should not be engaging in conversations online with users they don’t know.
1. Set up Parental Controls & Content Filtering.
For very young children turning off your browser completely is a good idea. Older children can benefit from browsing especially if they are using a tablet device for learning, but as a parent its important you remember there is lots of inappropriate content on the web. In order to keep them safe, invest in a program, which incorporates a content filtering engine, which will restrict access to websites based on age ranges. Child-Safe App made by Finnish Security F-Secure is one such App which blocks users from ending up on harmful websites use as phishing websites.
2. Set up location based restrictions.
I routinely use a location based service let other users know where I am. However I would not want my children to be broadcasting their location on a smartphone or tablet device. So it’s a good idea if children are online, to turn off location services on any Apps which they are using.
3. Control Access Via your Home Router
Most Parents should by now have at least for basic protection, enabled their home router to be connectable via a passcode. If you don’t please DO IT NOW. It is also possible though to control access to the Internet from within the home. Lock down access via MAC (a unique number for every network device address) this can allow you to set up the days and times a device accesses the internet to prevent any late night surfing when a child should be sleeping or working on homework.
4. Be aware of the Apps your children are downloading
Within I-tunes and Google Play there are a whole host of fun & educational games, which can be downloaded and used on a smartphone or table device. Ensure that any downloading of Apps are done by an Adult and if the children want to download an App, that you clearly read the overview and description of the App and that you are aware of any location based activity which it broadcasts. Also turn it off, once installed. Never give your password to a child so that they can download or purchase Apps by themselves and if you find that they have found out your password, change and update it as soon as possible.
These are only a few steps you can take to keep your kids safe when using Smartphone or Tablet devices.
As Parents we have a Duty of Care to protect our children when they are online. We need to be aware and understand the dangers as well as the benefits of our children using this wonderful technology in our homes.
Happy Christmas and New Year! And Happy Surfing!