Are You Buying Mobile Tech For Your Child This X-Mas 2016
Then This Posting is Important For You To Read
There is no doubt, this Christmas there will be some of our kids who will be receiving gifts of mobile tech. This posting is about sharing some of our thoughts with parents and caregivers, to ensure we are building safety and security into these devices, before they get into the hands of our kids Christmas morning.
There is no doubt that mobile phones have become the number one way our kids are accessing Social Networking. Our kids have moved away from using desk tops and lap tops, and are now using their mobile phones as their primary way to connect with others online. Given this fact, mobile phones will be one of the hottest tech commodities this 2016 holiday season.
Now before buying the newest and greatest smartphone on the market, really ask yourself, “is my child ready and mature enough to use this very powerful digital key to the digital highway” Often parents buy these smartphones for their kids because that is what other parents are doing, or because the deals on these smartphones are too good to pass up.
I would suggest to the reader that most smartphones are too much for the average elementary school student. Once the tween moves from grade school into Jr high school, and are showing good digital literacy, then as parents we can revisit this suggestion. There are several phones on the market that allow talking, texting, pictures, and videos, without having to move into the smartphone category. Do your homework and search out these phones. They are available, but many sales people will want to up-sell you to a smartphone……. resist this attempt and stay firm on the choice that you think is best for your child.
Once you have purchased an age appropriate phone, and before wrapping it up and placing beneath the Christmas tree, I now want you to set up its parental controls and consider installing some software and hardware solutions, to ensure that your child’s time online is safer.
Most phones have their own native parental settings that can be controlled by you as the parent. For Android phones, here’s a great link to walk you step by step into turning on these parental settings: http://www.geeksquad.co.uk/articles/set-up-parental-controls-android , for iPhones, iPods, iPads: http://www.imore.com/restrictions and for window devices: http://www.itphobia.com/windows-phone-parental-controls-setup-configure-step-by-step/ . Obviously these setting should all be protected with a parental controlled password, so that the child can’t change the settings once they receive the phone.
The next step I recommend, to layer the protection and monitoring of the phone; install a third party monitoring/filtering software onto the mobile device. I personally recommend NetSanity for both iOS and Android phones I recommend (https://netsanity.net) . For Window phones I recommend NetNanny https://www.netnanny.com/products/netnanny/ . Again this software should be installed on the mobile device prior to wrapping it up and placing it under the tree. Once your child is old enough and showing you good digital citizenship and digital literacy, then you can reward them by removing the monitoring software from their devices. Our kids have no right to online privacy from us as parents, they can however earn that right by showing us good digital citizenship and digital literacy. Here’s an article I wrote on this issue: http://thedigitalsheepdog.ca/the-internet-and-a-childs-right-to-privacy-from-parents/ and http://thedigitalsheepdog.ca/parents-dont-get-caught-post-online-negative-event/ .
Another option for parents with grade school children, instal a parental filtering/monitoring wifi modem. This modem will be the primary way your child will access the internet while at home. The product that I recommend is KidsWiFi ($99.00 CDN) https://kidswifi.com . Here’s a recent article I wrote on this product: http://thedigitalsheepdog.ca/1390-2/
Now that we have picked the right phone, set up its native parental controls, have downloaded third party security/safety parental monitoring/filtering software and have installed a safer child only access wifi point, we now want to have a discussion with our child, after Christmas breakfast, about what is desirable and less than desirable online behaviour. To help parents engage in this discussion, I have created a document called “The Internet, Social Media, and Mobile Device Family Collective Agreement” which can be located here: http://thedigitalsheepdog.ca/the-internet-social-media-mobile-device-family-collective-agreement/ . This is a free document, that you can download and print, which clearly outlines online use expectations, both positive and negative. Remember, these mobile devices are not a right to have, they are a privilege for our children to possess. If they breach this privilege, then they need to understand that their will be consequences to their actions.
All the above will be for not, unless the parent also engages their child via parental communication and participation. Hardware and software solutions have their strengths and weaknesses, they are not a snake oil that can do everything, and parents can not depend upon these solutions alone to help protect and educate our kids. Parental participation and communication is the keystone in this layered protection process……without it, everything else will fail.
Remember we need to be our child’s “best parent” and not their “best friend” when it comes to the online protection process, something a counsellor that we consult with spoke to in this article http://thedigitalsheepdog.ca/online-boundaries-when-being-your-childs-bff-isnt-best/
I support getting our kids online at younger ages, but we need to ensure that we also provide the appropriate hardware, software and human-ware solutions to more safely scaffold their online experiences.
So here’s your challenge mom, dad or caregiver, before you place that new mobile device beneath the Christmas tree, see if you can’t first follow the above noted recommendations.
The White Hatter Team
PS: if anyone is wanting to connect with us about some of the downloading options available please don’t hesitate to connect with us via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org