Cyber safety is an important parent-child discussion to revisit frequently, from elementary school through high school. Experts warn that children are most vulnerable to online dangers while in their own home. The following suggestions are drawn from a wide variety of professional sources that may aid you in effectively guiding your child’s use of the iPad and other technology devices.
All School iPads have built-in filtering software blocking access to inappropriate sites while the device is at school. However, children often have complete, unrestricted access to inappropriate sites on other devices such as home computers and personal cell phones. Experts strongly suggest installing software to filter and block inappropriate content on your wireless home network. Some possible filters to consider include OpenDNS (free version available for computers and Wi-Fi) and Curbi or Kajeet for cellphones.
Regularly share your expectations with your child about accessing only appropriate sites and content, as well as being a good person when online (even when parents aren't watching). Outside of school, it is likely that your child has already been confronted with multiple opportunities to access content that parents wouldn’t approve, such as pornography, hate sites, celebrity gossip, reality tv personal blogs and more, all of which may influence your child's beliefs, values and behavior. Understand that your child's use of many technologies (such as iPods, video game systems, and cell phones) likely gives your child the ability to connect to unfiltered public wireless networks (such as in a library or coffee shop, by picking up a neighbor’s wireless signal, or connecting to the Internet through a cell service). Therefore, it is important to maintain regular, open dialog about Internet use and access. Discuss your expectation for appropriate use and behavior.
Monitor & Limit Screen Time Put the iPad to bed, but not in the bedroom
Experts suggest having children surf the Internet in a central place at home, such as the kitchen or family room, rather than away from adult supervision or behind a closed door. Know what your child is doing with technology and how his or her time is being spent. Technology can be a great tool and resource, but also has the potential to be a distractor. Help your child learn to focus on completing tasks or assignments first before spending time on games, shopping and social networking. Teaching today’s children how to manage multiple sources of information and potential distractions is a critical life skill, one best learned before heading off to college or the workplace.
Parenting experts suggest parking all technology devices, from cell phones to iPads, in a common spot overnight to discourage late night, unmonitored use and sleep disruption. Don’t allow your child to sleep with the iPad, laptop or cell phone. Remember to model appropriate use and balance of technology in your own life, too!