When I began writing about digital parenting, the majority of children received their first mobile phone in middle school or junior high. Walking down the elementary school hallways today, I hear the telltale “ping” emanating from many backpacks. With the growth in touch screen tablets, children are receiving their first device at a much younger age.
Owning a smartphone or a tablet provides amazing opportunities for children. They can download educational apps, play games or research an animal for school. They can also chat with classmates or participate on a class blog. When families have a change of plans or need to check in, they can easily connect via a group text or message.
As the amount of time they spend online increases, parents start worry about internet safety and consider setting up parental controls on phone and tablet. Sonia Livingstone, from EU Kids Online Network, found children’s concern about risks increased significantly between 9- 12 years old. One of the possible reasons for this increased concern is this age group is adding new online activities faster than they are gaining the skills or maturity to cope with what they find in the digital world.
Smartphones and tablets are small, powerful computers. With 4G networks and Wi-Fi, kids can connect 24/7 to surf the web, watch videos, text friends, shop online and download apps. Not all of this content is suitable for children. Like a home computer, parents need to set limits and establish rules for smartphones and tablets.
Parental Controls for Tablets and Phones
Often, the media depicts kids as digital natives with an innate understanding of how the digital world works. While they are arguably more comfortable in this world, their confidence does not always translate to competence. In a recent study, teens between 12-15 years old report engaging in more risky behavior online than a few years ago. More of them are friending people they have never met, keeping public profiles and consequently sharing photos and personal details with people they do not know.
Parents should not assume their child knows how to stay safe online. When a child receives their first device, parents need to set aside time to set parental controls on phones and tablets and begin the digital conversation. By having an ongoing conversation and keeping kids in child safe areas, parents can teach kids how to navigate the internet safely and ensure their phones safety. As they grow and mature, parents can adjust settings to allow more freedom to explore.
5 Digital Parenting Tips for New Devices
To help parents set controls, Familoop team has created a useful infographic. Click to download instantly - “5 Digital Parenting Tips for New Smartphone or Tablet.“ This download shows parents how to filter harmful content, choose age-appropriate apps, turn off in-app purchases, set time limits and institute family internet rules. By applying these tips, families can set parental controls on phones and tablets that keep kids in child safe areas and teach them to avoid risky behavior online.