Tuesday, March 3, 2015

9 Tips to Ensure Your Child's Safety While Using Technology

Gadgets such as tablets, mobile phones and gaming devices find their way to our kids' hands and stay there, because it helps keep the peace when you're trying to have some quiet time to yourself or finish a chore. Also, a certain section of society believes that in an increasingly computerised world, if their young'uns are deprived of gadgets at a younger age, they’ll be left behind. So, how do you walk the line between exposure to technology and restriction to it? Here are some tips that will help:
  1. Turn on parental controls to prevent access to specific apps and features. These apps could be timelock apps that allow you to limit the amount of time your child spends daily on his device, apps that filter out adult content, restrict app purchases and even monitor call, SMS and Internet activity. Use security software with parental settings on. 
  2. Set rules and conditions for use of these devices. For instance, you can have complete access to the device at any point of time. 
  3. Different rules apply to kids of different ages. The younger they are, the less screen time you can allow them. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Society of Pediatrics, infants aged 0-2 years shouldn’t have any exposure to technology, while those between 3-5 years should be restricted to it for one hour per day, and those between 6-18 years should be allowed two hours per day. (These rules apply if gaming is the focus of the interaction. If the device is being used as a productivity tool, you can decide how much longer you’ll allow access.) 
  4. Children below the age of 10 must be constantly monitored. Keep media screens in family areas so that a child’s media usage can be monitored. TVs and computers should be kept out of bedrooms. 
  5. Talk to your child about the risks online. You can't always control what kids use computers for, so it’s best to teach them how to use it safely. Educate kids to critically think and they will filter out the bad for themselves. 
  6. Engage with your child as s/he tries out a new app or watches television to help increase your child’s comprehension skills. “Jeannie Galindo, supervisor of instructional technology for the Manatee County School District in Florida says, “In an unsupervised environment, I wouldn't recommend a smartphone or tablet purchase for a child until at least between the ages of 11 and 13.” 
  7. When making age-appropriate media choices, it’s important to focus on the content and message. 
  8. Model responsible usage of technology yourself. 
  9. Use the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, have them spend 20 seconds looking at something 20 feet away. 

Read the comprehensive list of tips in this month's Fast Track to Kids Tech.

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