It seems like a cath-22: Kids need to know the latest technology to keep up with their peers (and future colleagues), but it’s also a minefield when it comes to safety. With child predators, violent videos rampant on YouTube and the negative side effects of social media abuse, what are parents to do? Keeping kids away from the internet is detrimental and will leave them in the dust when it comes time for a career, especially if they’re drawn towards a job in technology.
Fortunately, there are a number of technology devices and apps available designed to give kids access to only the good stuff online. Some of the big players like Microsoft are behind some of these programs, and they’re getting better every day. As a parent, it can be difficult to balance between giving children opportunities and ensuring they’re safe. Here are 5 technology tricks to do it.
1. Generation Safe
This is a national program backed by Microsoft with the sole purpose of giving kids good tech access while keeping them protected. Training is provided to schools and teachers since this is where learning about technology often takes place. Parents can check with their child’s school to see if the program is in place, and if not encourage the district to reach out to Microsoft. Being proactive can get great results.
2. GoGoStat Parental Guidance
This free program lets parents monitor what their kids are doing on their laptop, tablet or PC. Children are using a variety of platforms to access sites like Facebook, and parents need to make sure they’re being safe. Openly talk to children about using this device, otherwise it might seem like a violation of privacy.
This non-profit group targets children and their parents. A slew of online safety tips and free training for parents and teachers are offered. It’s backed by a few big corporations, and it’s a complimentary resource parents can count on.
Similar to StaySafeOnline, this is another non-profit group that provides free support, advice, tips and recommendations to parents and teachers. To get the most benefit, visit both groups and see which layout and resources are the best fits. While both have great reputations, most people naturally prefer one over the other.
5. Locks and Filters
There are a variety of options to lock certain features of smartphones or filter search engine results. However, savvy kids know how to get around these at times and there’s no guarantee that everything that should be filtered will. At the same time, some perfectly safe sites might be filtered that kids need for school projects. Consider this one tool, not the total solution.
The best way to keep kids safe is with transparency and open conversations. Recent studies show toddlers can get addicted to smartphones and tablets, so introduce technology carefully. Discuss the dangers, let kids know if they’re being monitored and encourage safe, open use of technology and identify quality sites for kids.