Technology today has become ingrained in many children’s lives, making them much more adept with Internet devices than previous generations. Nearly 95% of American households today have the Internet, giving children greater access and exposure than ever. Many children have a basic understanding of a tablet or smartphone or even know how to surf the web before they enter elementary school.
The next generation of kids will undeniably be tech-savvy and Internet-centric, which provides parents and caregivers with a unique challenge. The Internet will be a big part of their children’s development, so it’s important to talk with them early about Internet usage and establish rules on how to use it.
Should Parents Monitor Children’s Internet Usage?
The short answer is yes, but the practical way to go about it is more complicated. There must be more research before we fully understand how technology impacts children’s development. However, current studies indicate there are positives and drawbacks to technology usage in children.
For starters, Internet access can be an effective way for children to unwind and relax. With the advancement of streaming, kids can now watch their favorite shows or lighthearted videos from a smartphone, tablet, etc. Additionally, the Internet can help children learn new things and build research skills. Google’s search engine has become a modern phenomenon, and many children understand how to use it effectively at a young age.
On the other hand, too much Internet usage can negatively impact social skill development in children and make them more isolated. Another study indicates that an over-saturation of technology can decrease the attention span of children and adults.
So what is the best way to monitor a child’s Internet usage? Well, the best answer is moderation. Parents or caregivers should establish clear rules for how long a child can use an Internet device. We suggest less than two hours of screen time every day, but it is ultimately up to you to decide what is best for your child. However, if you notice prolonged Internet use is becoming a problem, you should intervene.
How to Keep Children Protected While Using an IoT Device
Although the Internet is a powerful tool that has a lot of positives, there are also a lot of dangers to it. The truth is, you do not know who is on the other side of the screen, their intentions, or how they might target you or your child. Children are more susceptible to online scams and cyber attacks because they are mostly unaware of these behaviors, so it is essential to have measures in place to ensure their safety.
Parental controls were implemented in the mid-90s when the Internet entered the mainstream. Today, these controls exist on basically any IoT device you use. There are a lot of customizable features that restrict certain content from children, giving parents and caregivers a lot of flexibility.
For instance, parental controls on smartphones allow you to limit which apps your child can download, set screen time limits, and even restrict the ability to share photos and videos from the device online. As for laptops and tablets, you can restrict the websites they access, the games they can play/download, view browsing history, and limit screen time. There are more advanced settings for each device too. But this should give you a basic understanding of what you can control as a parent.
Teach Them the Basics of Internet Safety
Sometimes, parental controls can only go so far. The sooner children learn how to protect themselves online, the better. Most of us have heard the parental advice, "don't talk to strangers." The same rule applies when online. It's a sad reality, but there are a lot of dangerous people online, and children are susceptible targets to their nefarious goals. Criminals often use a child’s naivety to their advantage.
Children must never share personal information about themselves, family members, or friends. These include names, addresses, phone numbers, events they're attending, etc. If it's information they wouldn't tell a stranger in real life, it's something they shouldn’t share online. Additionally, they must understand that even reputable websites like YouTube can be dangerous if they're not careful. They must always be conscious about what they say and do online: no exceptions!
Make Sure They Know How to Operate Other Smart Home Devices
Internet-capable devices have expanded far beyond the traditional laptop or cellphone. Home automation has become increasingly popular among households. People can control everything from lighting to locking their doors, to adjusting thermostats, and much more from a smartphone, laptop, etc.
If you have any smart home technology or are considering installing some, it’s important to teach your children how to handle these devices on a basic level. The last thing you want them to do is to inadvertently leave the house unlocked or disarm your security system. Most children are well-versed in technology already, so it shouldn’t be too difficult for them to understand.
Consider a Smart Home Security System to Keep Your Children Protected
A child is a home's most important asset, and a smart home security system can ensure they remain protected. You can even teach them the valuable lesson of home safety by showing them how the system works and how to use it properly.
At Vector Security, the safety of our customers is always our top priority. We offer a wide range of security and smart home solutions that are easy to use and keep you and your family safe. For more information on Vector Security and how we can help you build a more secure home, feel free to contact us today.