There’s no denying that kids are tech smart. Show them how to use an electronic device, app, or search the internet just once, and they’ll have no problem navigating their way around the next time they log on. And with how easy it is to slip from one site to the next, it’s not a matter of if, but when your child will interact with a site that you haven’t approved. The question then is: How do you protect your toddler from inappropriate content online? The best way to do this is to have a plan in place ahead of time, before you’ve had a problem.
Go online or watch videos together
Helping your toddler choose the content she sees, and watching it with her, is the first step in toddler proofing the internet. Considering the fact that kids two to five years old should only have one hour with screens each day, it shouldn’t be too difficult to carve out time in your schedule to sit with her while she navigates the web. You can also use this opportunity to do some online viewing of your own. Once your child is on an appropriate site, feel free to use your own device. Just make sure you’re next to her, and can look over at her screen quickly at all times.
Resources for parents
One of the best resources online for parents to access current information about kids and internet use is Common Sense Media. They are a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology. Additionally, there are several magazines and websites dedicated to computers and technology that are constantly publishing content related to internet safety. PC Magazine, PC World, and MacFormat are just a few of the online resources available that publish up-to-date reviews of products and tips for parents.
Consult a specialist
Part of what you pay for each month with your internet provider should include consultations with a tech specialist. Call your provider and ask them to help you toddlerproof the internet. They can either walk you through securing your online content while on the phone, or come out to your house and show you how to do it. Another option is to hire a tech expert who specializes in parental controls. They will come to your house and show you how to secure all of your devices and help you choose the best browsers, apps, and software to meet your needs.
Everything from your smartphone and tablet to your device’s operating system, web browsers, third-party apps and software, and even kids’ browsers, have the ability to provide some form of parental controls. But before you spend time (and money) researching those features, as a baseline, make sure all of your electronics are password protected. For some families, this is enough protection, as long as you are changing the password frequently and not telling your child what it is.
The next step should be looking into your device’s operating system. According to Common Sense Media, Microsoft’s Windows, Apple’s Mac OS, and Google Chrome come with robust built-in parental controls. Just make sure you have the most updated version of the operating system, and each user has to log in under their profile. Many parents find SafeSearch, a free tool from Google, to be enough of a block from explicit material.
Beyond these simple first steps, you can purchase software, pay for subscriptions, download apps, and even use a kids’ browser that fills your entire screen so your child can’t click out of them.
About the author:
Sara Lindberg is a freelance writer focusing on parenting, health, and wellness. She is passionate about all things fitness and health and loves spending time with her husband, daughter, and son.