While we are in the thick of the Holiday season, it is likely that your child may receive some sort of new technology as a gift. Here are a few tips to remember to help keep them healthy and safe online.

Assessing the Gift

  1. Is it connected to the Internet?
  2. Is it educational?
  3. Can users stream, watch, or interact with other players?
  4. Is it possible to set or install user restrictions eg. parental controls?

All of the above should factor into your decision to hand over the device. Depending on the gift, this could be an easy decision. Yet, when it comes to more advanced tech, including but not limited to tablets, gaming consoles, and smartphones, the choice to gift can come with some difficulty.

Consider the access you’re handing over, and the sensitive information you’re trusting your child to keep private. These days, devices can be used in dozens of ways, from gaming to streaming. Most devices can be monitored or controlled by parents, which comes in hand when looking to teach tech responsibility in phases. Both the device itself and the user are equally vulnerable to cybercrime, furthermore, confirming the importance of a thorough assessment of the users maturity, responsibility, and existing tech habits.

Assessing the Child

Another crucial part of the equation is determining whether or not your child is ready for the responsibility? You need to consider whether or not your child is mature enough to view unmonitored content, interact with other users, or converse online. Additionally, it is important to remember that the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) states that that if a tech product has audiences under 13 there must be age verification methods in place. Parents and educators can learn more about COPPA, as well as check see what products have earned our COPPA certification, by visiting our iKeepSafe website.

Defending the Device

Startup- Open the new device from the packaging (be sure to do it carefully as to not destroy the box) and then turn it on.

Setup- Once powered on, you will be prompted to follow a setup procedure. When doing so, enable a primary or master account for yourself, and a secondary account for your child. If possible, tune the security and privacy settings to the youngest user. Some devices come pre-installed with user-friendly interfaces for children that are more restricting than a standard user profile.

Install- Whether the device comes equipped with parental control software or not, it’s always a good idea to monitor your child’s activity, especially after they open a new device. Chances are you won’t remember to pry it away from them to install parental controls. So while it’s on, choose and install parental control software, passwords, antivirus, and other privacy applications that can defend the user.

Reinforce- Conveniently, the advanced security, privacy, and parental control settings allow parents to set restrictions on content and screen-usage. By enabling these tools, you can easily set rules and expectations before handing over the device. However, don’t forget to double check that all applications and timers are working correctly and locked before wrapping it back up! For more tips on securing smart-toys, check out this article here.

Setting Expectations and Enforcing the Rules 

Lastly, it is important to talk to your child about the importance of Internet safety and awareness. Before you give them the device, establish rules and standards. Be sure to enforce the rules, discuss failures, and reward accomplishments.