In an ideal world we would all like to think that our kids are safe to have a tablet but, sometimes this is not the case at all.
Tablets are great for kids, but they do need to be supervised and while you may not be aware of them, there are some things you should know.
Devices like smartphones and tablets do have many advantages for kids. They teach them about the world around them and they can aid their fine motor skills. Modern life is driven by technological developments, and a child who can use devices will find it easier as they grow up in the digital world. However, they also have their disadvantages and parents should be aware of the dangers tablets can bring.
Children can come under pressure through social media to look or behave a certain way. They can also be exposed to targeted advertising or inapproriate content. And far from encouraging them to socialise, too much time spent in a room staring at a screen can do just the opposite and harm their social development.
- Health problems: too much tablet time can cause disrupted sleep for kids and because they are likely to be constantly “tuned in”. They may find it hard to sleep without distractions. Most kids that spend too much time on devices may not get enough exercise, and as childhood obesity becomes more of a problem in Ireland this may influence your child’s long-term health.
- Dangerous Apps: there are lots of apps that you may think are harmless, but are anything but. Make a rule that your child only downloads what you have approved. If your child mentions a new app, do a quick online search yourself and find out if it is safe and suitable. Everything you need to know is online: Common Sense Media and Webwise are great sources of Information on all things apps!
- Cyberbullying: like it or not, if your kid is online and playing with apps they are at risk of cyberbullying. Furthermore, messaging apps can be dangerous, as group texting is the norm for kids and this can become a toxic environment of negative energy. Texts can get out of control and a lot of comments can be targeted at certain kids: another form of cyberbullying. This leaves a digital footprint and evidence that may also cause problems further down the line for kids when applying for jobs or colleges - even when they may be innocent.
- Privacy settings: you may tell your kid to set their accounts to private, but here is the thing, kids may hide things and unless you supervise the accounts you can never be sure of what your kid is doing online. Check out more about privacy here.
- YouTube: YouTube should be safe for kids but there are more and more reports of videos online targeted at children that are unsuitable for them. Many children’s cartoons have been implicated and caused some upset for kids when things popped up that shouldn’t be there. Learn more about YouTube and parental options on CyberSafeIreland’s blog page.
- Internet searching: your child can search for anything online and this is a huge worry. While parents are busy cleaning or cooking dinner, your child could be searching online for something sinister that they may have heard about at school or on the news. A tablet carries the ability to be able to give them everything they need at the touch of a button, and even the most innocent of searches can catch content that might make children uncomfortable. Use SafeSearch when on Chrome. For more about filtering search content on Google, click here.
Ways to protect your child:
- Keep your kids close while they are online.
- Check privacy settings regularly.
- Don’t let your kids have social media accounts until they are older. The age for all popular social media apps is 13, and for some, 16.
- Apply parental controls on devices and home networks.
- Keep strict tablet times, and don’t let them spend too much time on devices.
- Learn how to use their tablet yourself and research the apps they play so you can understand better what they are doing, and help stop anything getting past you.
- Remember you are not being an annoying parent by supervising them, you are just being responsible and keeping them safe!
This content has been checked and certified by Cyber Safe Ireland whose mission is to empower children, parents and teachers to navigate the online world in a stronger, smarter and safer way.