Christmas is upon us, and my magic Christmas ball tells me there are many good little boys and girls who will be receiving the latest techno gadgets. What I am not seeing in that ball is an elf assigned to supervise the use of these new toys. Oh, my.
Supervising can be such a tricky game, especially if little Johnny knows more about the new gadget than you! But never fear because there are many ways to monitor and protect your children while giving them the perfect gift and providing the freedom to explore and learn.
Executive Director Parry Aftab from WiredSafety.org tells us, “Kids can walk around now with Internet technology right in their backpack. There’s Xbox, personal gaming systems, cell phones. They are connected to the Internet everywhere they go, with everything they touch.”
Neither Parry nor I will ever tell you not to buy the new gadgets for your kids. We believe our children need to master ever-changing new technologies. Actually, denying them access might impact their ability to do well in school or make a living in their Century of Technology.
So if Santa does drop all the latest toys down your chimney, consider these tips to keep your techno-wizard safe:
- Keep the computer and technology devices in a central area of the home. Making such rules for the gaming devices, Xbox or cell phones may be more problematic, but establishing ground rules about how, when and where all gadgets will be used is key. In our home, the computer and Xbox are in the den and living room, respectively, and there are no TVs in bedrooms.
- Sign an agreement about expectations and approved uses of the gadget. Working through an agreement together will provide an opportunity for you to talk about your concerns. Make the time to discuss your values while including the type of messages and pictures your children can post, sites they can visit, and people they can contact. Make it a priority to hold these conversations often.
- Use your Internet Service Provider’s parental control features, especially for the younger kids. Also consider purchasing monitoring software.
Go to bed early on Christmas Eve. Your tech-savvy kids love to get up early on Christmas morning. At least my little wizard always has!
Allyn Evans (TheAlertParent.com) is a published author, professional speaker and consultant residing in Stillwater.
If you are looking for help to start the conversation about internet safety with your kids, check out this Staying Safe on the Internet guide from DirecTV. Kid-friendly Wally the Walrus shows how to have fun and stay safe online.