Internet safety 101.
Whether it’s scrolling through Facebook, watching Peppa Pig on the iPad, uploading to Instagram or sending multiple snaps on Snapchat, your child’s world is now filled with endless media and ways to access it via screen time. The world is becoming increasingly digitalised and like it or loathe it there really is no way to stop it. Your child will encounter media daily.
As a parent, it’s natural to feel concerned, confused and even out of your depth. I’m pretty tech-savvy and I once had a two-year-old show me how to use the touch screen computer in my own nursery. Children are acquiring skills and knowledge at frightening speeds and it’s important that we stay abreast of the latest trends.
Previously, there have been reports on how inappropriate videos have even been popping up on YouTube, masquerading as innocent cartoons and therefore tricking parents and children. With a children’s version of the app and YouTube revising its child policies, there is definitely an effort to keep our kids protected while exploring the world wide web as keeping them off it completely is almost not an option these days! Used in the right way, screen time and media can open your child’s mind, provide endless opportunities for knowledge and experiences and broaden their horizons. The internet can be a wonderful place and apps and games can support learning and help your child to thrive. In order to help you navigate the mind-boggling world of media, we’ve put together a rundown of websites and apps that can help you feel confident and in control.
A non-profit organisation dedicated to helping children flourish in a world of media, this site is aimed at empowering parents to ensure technology is a positive influence. This site provides information on TV shows, movies, games, apps and websites (letting you know if they are suitable for your child’s age range), as well as offering answers to key questions and concerns you might have about screen time, social media etc. in the what Parents Need To Know section.
Common Sense Media, www.commonsensemedia.org
Our Pact is an app that allows parents to monitor and control the amount of screen time kids have on their phones. You can schedule bedtimes so the phone turns apps off, you can control the amount of time the kids have to be on apps during the day, and you can even block kids from using apps. It also makes kids responsible as well, because they have to use the Our Pact, Jr. app, which controls the time limit. They hit “play” for when they use it and “pause” for when they don’t need to be using their phones/apps. If they forget, the time might run out. Oh, and you can also grant more time if needed. The app is free but there are multiple in-app purchases also available to upgrade, such as OurPact Plus to OurPact Premium+ ($15/month and up).
Based in the UK, Childnet aims to help make the internet a great and safe place for children by working directly with children and young people from the ages of 3 to 18 years. Through their work and research, Childnet learns about real experiences and sees just what children are doing online with their screen time. The site offers lots of helpful tips and advice to ensure your child is getting the most from the internet so that it can be used to its maximum potential without dangers. Check out the Parent and Carer Toolkit to get you started.
The Children’s Media Foundation acts on behalf of children to promote and protect the quality, variety, and range of media of all types for children and young people in all social groups. Another site based in the UK, it has lots of information that is relevant to all nationalities. They also provide a great link to The Good App Guide which gives you all the information you need for choosing educational and supportive apps.
Raising Children is an Australian parenting website with articles that are relevant to parents from all over the world. This site is packed has a whole selection of articles dedicated to entertainment and technology for children, pre-teens and teens. Articles touch on key parental concerns such as cyberbullying and internet safety and there are also answers to all your social networking questions.
Raising Children, www.raisingchildren.net.au
Load this onto iPads, phones, tablets and computers to ensure safe content is filtered through to all your devices. You decide what your children can and can’t access by installing the easy-to-use software. You have the ability to block websites, review internet browsing history, manage and monitor all family devices from one parent app or website dashboard, track your child’s location if you wish and much more. The app is compatible with iOS, Android, Windows, Chromebook, Mac, Kindle and Nook.
Netsanity also offers parental controls for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Samsung Android devices allowing you to control the devices that your children are using, protect them from inappropriate content during screen time and also set time limits for apps and games. It’s free to sign up and easy to get started.
Read more: Podcasts Your Kids Should Be Listening To
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2017 by Carrie Johnson and updated by Alex Purcell Garcia in June 2020.