(image source: www.dit.ie)
As my eldest daughter Mia is growing up now, she is getting closer to the age where she will want to go on the internet most probably on a daily basis.
She has started playing games on the PC when she visits her Nain and uses my Samsung S3 phone for games too.
It does scare me that she is getting to the age where she is entering the 'technology world'. When I was younger, we had no computers - only pen and paper!
But, I do remember that Christmas me and my brother got a computer and remember us being so excited! Mia however, was born in to this world in the age where everyone and everything is using technology, so she has had to grow up with it really.
What really worries me about Mia using a PC/Tablet/Laptop is the dangers of the internet. As you hear all kinds on the news and in newspapers about online bullying, identity theft, young people not knowing who they are talking too online – the list goes on and on. This is where we as parents have to step in and add a little order to the chaos that is the online world, and provide some guidance to ensure that their online experience is nothing but positive.
One of the main things I would like Mia to know when she starts browsing the internet more is that the internet is not a plaything, even though there are many a games to be played on it. Fact is, there are a lot of dangers and threats lurking around the corner…it’s literally a minefield and I’ve got to take care not to sugar coat this.
Even now, at 4 years old and she plays on my phone, and you probably know from experience that the free version of a game will bombard us with a lot of pop-up ads in an effort to compel us to get the paid version. I can recall her playing similar games where adverts randomly pop-up and she has clicked them in an effort to try to close then or maybe thinking it’s all a part of the game she’s playing and poof – it’ll just whisk her off to a paid version or an inappropriate website. This is exactly the sort of thing I don’t want me child dealing with or seeing.
When my girls get a computer or laptop of their own, believe me, there will be some firm house rules! I wouldn't want them to constantly be on the PC, every single day, for hours on end. I'd like them to be away from the computer spend quality time with family and friends too. As they are at such a young age now, I don't really have to worry about Elliw too much. I’m rather more concerned about Mia however, as she has already started going on a computer in her Nains house and using my phone, and we’ve also decided to buy her an iPad for Christmas.
I think initially, she’ll only be allowed on it when I am present in the room or the next room. And, even though it will belong to her, she can’t be on all day.
I’ll have to password protect the app store to ensure that she can’t accidentally buy any games and perhaps find a suitable app to ensure that she doesn’t access any inappropriate websites. I’ve read on cnet that Apple does a decent job of offering safety controls on their devices, so that I can limit her access to the world wide web - though the protection is not exhaustive.
Luckily, there are several child-friendly filtering applications out there that can help me monitor her activity online when I’m away in another room that can all be added to the iPad when we get it. Among them, Norton Family was actually voted as one of the best web filters by PC Pro. It can be downloaded without cost and is essentially just an app to filters out harmful content, but there are many more like it out there.
Keep in mind that some tools are better than others at the job you want them to do, so make sure you read or watch the reviews before download one. I have yet to test any, so I can't recommend a specific one, but it’s nothing a quick Google search shouldn’t have an answer to.
When they are older I will most definitely like to know which sites they've been on and also who they’ve been talking too. …Maybe even want to have their passwords - especially until they are about 16 or at least they’re old enough to appreciate the dangers of the internet.