I know Emmy is only 5 and a half but she is getting to that age where she is beginning to spend a little time online now, she has IT lessons at school and can navigate her way around the school computers quite well now – they use drawing and maths programmes currently and as her school life progresses she will advance with these lessons more and more.
At home she can use my smart phone to play her apps and games, she also has a Leappad and a Kindle Fire HDX – originally mine but reclaimed now by the children. A few of her school friends are currently into unwrapping videos on YouTube or Playdoh making videos – Emmy is yet to discover YouTube as I let her play on the Kindle in KindleFree time, this means I can restrict internet access, in app purchases and set timers for when she can play and the amount of time she plays for too. However, it won’t be long before she is asking as if her friends do then inevitably they will be talking about it.
I’m not daft, I won’t keep her away from the internet – in the day and age we live in it’s an essential part of our lives, if it wasn’t I wouldn’t be typing this now, and you wouldn’t be reading it would you?
So the time has come for me to start thinking of the best practices for keeping her safe online – while the majority of what she will see if fine, there may be the occasions where a mistyped word/phase will reveal things she isn’t ready to see. As adults we know that the internet is does contain inappropriate content for children (and adults too) but our children don’t and it’s our job to help keep them safe.
I’ve been looking at a site called www.internetmatters.org to help me make sure our devices and computers are child friendly before she starts to explore, after could be too late so doing it now for me is essential.
The site has age guides for Pre-School age (0-5 years), Young Children (6-10 years) and pre-teens (11-13 years) and for each age group you can find helpful resources.
I’ve been looking at the Pre-School age content and resources to start with as both Emmy and Harry fall into this category, I will then read up on the 6-10 age group ready before Emmy is ready.
I really like the easy to follow checklists for each age group, this is the Pre-School checklist.
I was pleasantly surprised at how many of these I already have in place, I have passwords on the kindle so they can only access their own profiles where they can find the games, apps, books and videos I have added there already for them, however this doesn’t allow internet access at all currently so I will need to change some of Emmy’s settings.
I like the idea of setting a child friendly homepage such as CBeebies – I am going to implement this one tomorrow (it’s time to admit the kids aren’t letting me have my Kindle back so it may as well be 100% child friendly – I will also remove my email account, FB and Twitter accounts as they have no need to access those).
I need to investigate the safe settings for YouTube before I will allow her to start typing in her own searches and Kids-Search is something new to me too.
There are videos to watch which run through these checklists with you making is even easier to follow and click through to the mentioned resources.
The site also shows how different age groups have different issues which could affect them online – for instance the first picture here is for the Pre-Schoolers and the second is for 6-10 year olds:
|0-5 year olds
Obviously when children get older the way they use the internet changes; so it moves from just playing games and watching videos to a way to communicate with friends, helping with homework and much more.
It is always advisable to monitor usage, this can be done without invading their privacy – make sure they can only access age appropriate content and remember age restriction’s are there to help keep them safe.
I have found this site useful as things change all the time – when I was Emmy’s age we didn’t have the use of computers in schools like she does and although we did have a home computer our games were played on a games console with definitely didn’t have internet access – a simple keyboard and joystick worked for us. That makes me sound like a dinosaur doesn’t it? but I am only 35 – my childhood computer was a commodore 64 and I loved it, infact my parents still have it in their loft.
I now feel more prepared for when Emmy starts spending time online, is it something you have thought about yet? What steps do you have in place for ensuring your children’s safety?
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