Technology has opened up so many doors for both us and our children to better communicate, research, learn and socialize. But does technology also make our kids grow up faster? The internet certainly has given us great access to information, but of course not all of that information is suitable for children. There was a time before Google and social networks when it was easy for parents to monitor news and information that was distributed via television, newscast and newspapers. Today, information reaches people so fast, and kids can receive the same news alerts and information before we have time to process or explain it. Kids with mobile or handheld devices especially, such as smartphones, PSP, iPods and iPads have even quicker access. Parent who allow their children these kinds of devices need to be sure that they are ready to handle conversations with their kids about what’s going on in news, entertainment and other media.
Some things for parents to consider when their kids have easy access to technology and the online world:
- Does a certain device (phone or other gadget) use WiFI? This allows for open wireless communication and less secure online access; encourage the use of more private and secure connections when using a device to go online.
- Are there parental controls that can be set-up on the device? Some devices have built-in settings, or controls that can be purchased or downloaded to help protect against sites and content unsuitable for children.
- Can you turn off/on certain functions that can be protected with a password? There are some applications and services that may not be suitable for children. Being able to turn on or off certain functions and blocking a child’s ability to change them until they reach a more mature age can provide peace of mind when kids are using certain devices.
Teaching our children to be more responsible online is the most important thing parents can do in the midst of all of these changing technologies and online capabilities. Having an open dialog and communicating with our children is crucial, especially when they receive a new device or start to gain access to more information online as they get older.