Don’t you wish we had some today’s toys and games when we were kids? Today’s technology is amazing and the learning tools, apps and resources for our kids to learn and be entertained are better than ever before.
These games and apps are powerful tools we can use to help give our kids a head start on learning, but it’s important to teach them how to use them safely as well. Here are a few tips if you’re starting to teach your toddler how to use your tablet or computer.
Set Time Together
Especially if your child is very young, you don’t want to just turn them loose with an iPad or computer on their own to explore. Set aside some special time to spend with your child to teach them how the device works and how to play the games. Explain things, let them practice navigating and turn the time into a learning experience together.
Set Time Limits
While the learning and educational benefits of most of today’s apps are amazing, there can also be too much of a good thing. It’s important to set limits for how much time kids spend playing games or getting online. Be sure set limits and make sure that your kids are still getting lots of good old fashioned playtime offline as well.
Set Parental Safety Controls
While the web is filled with millions of amazing things, there’s also lots of scary stuff out there too, sometimes when you least expect it. My niece was recently doing a homework assignment on corn (we live in Iowa so it’s an important topic!) and she typed the word into Google to search for images to use in her report. Because not many people search for pictures of this particular vegetable, instead the search engine substituted what it thought was the closest search term that would work. Let’s just say it started with a “P” and rhymes with “corn”. Up popped millions of inappropriate images just for an online search about a vegetable. After that my sister and brother-in law realized they needed to set up stricter parental controls to help protect their kids — even during innocent homework assignments.
Set Purchasing Controls
While that one click purchasing on iTunes or on Amazon for your Kindle Fire might make things easy for you, it can also make things easy for your child to quickly rack up large amounts of unauthorized purchases. We have several friends whose toddlers have ordered hundreds of dollars of merchandise without Mom and Dad knowing because that one click ordering was a little too easy. Be sure to log out and set a password that your child doesn’t know before allowing them to explore on your tablet or iPad. It could save you a surprise on your credit card bill.
Set Rules and Guidelines
While you might have parental controls in place to keep out some of the bad stuff, it’s still important to have additional rules and guidelines about using technology to keep your young child safe. Our kids are only allowed to use the computer or tablet while they are sitting down (to prevent drops and breaks) and have to stay within sight of Mom or Dad so that we can keep an eye on what they are doing. Our preschooler is only allowed to use his approved apps, while our his big sister is allowed to explore a little more. However she still needs to surf only with our supervision and ask permission before visiting a new website she hasn’t been to before.
What rules do you set for your children online?