For many children today their first experience of the internet is through a tablet or smartphone device. If you are considering purchasing a tablet for your child there are a few things to consider.
Before your child is given a new device, decide and agree on what you are happy for them to use it for. For example, are they allowed to play games? Search online? Talk to other people online? Download apps?
Secure the device
Ensure the tablet is child-friendly before your child starts using it. Parental controls should be activated for young children. Information on this can be found at: webwise.ie/parental-controls
Parents should also become familiar with how the device works, reporting tools on sites and safety modes.
Use child-friendly websites and search engines, for example Swipe TV, YouTube Kids or CBEEBIES.
Have a conversation
For young tablet users the conversation needs to be simple, agree rules for tablet use. It is a good idea to discuss boundaries on where and for how long devices can be used. For example, many parents opt for a device free meal time and keep device in communal areas where parents can see their children.
Establish an open dialogue around internet use with your child, ensure your child knows to come to you if they are upset by something the see online. Having regular discussions with your child about what they are doing will also help create a positive online experience from a young age.
Many children use tablets for gaming. Talk to your child about games they will play, get them to show you how they work and ensure they have an appropriate age-rating. If the game has a player chat function, for young users we recommend disabling this is possible.
Many apps and games offer in-app purchases giving user’s additional game functionality, additional points/bonuses which children can easily purchase without even realising. Block in-app purchases using your phone/device settings. Additionally, some apps can cost money, help control what your child can access by blocking app purchasing. It is also a good idea to add a password to the app store account on the device your child is using. This can help manage what apps your child has access to. If your child is using an iPad or iPhone, here is how to restrict purchasing: support.apple.com/en-ie/
Address potential risks
If your child is of an age where they will have more freedom with their device, it is also important to talk them about issues like privacy, inappropriate content, sharing personal information and cyber-bullying.
For more advice go to: webwise.ie/parents/advice/