As temperatures soar and summer drags on, students may be looking to alleviate boredom indoors this month.
For some students, that means more screen time, whether it’s in front of the TV, a tablet or a phone. Tom Nix, a data sales consultant for Verizon Wireless, recently offered these tips to parents looking to keep their kids safe while online.
Q: What are some common problems that younger children can get into with access to web-enabled devices?
A: It seems like you can’t visit a doctor’s office or walk down the grocery aisle without seeing a young child with a smartphone in their hands. Some parents now are using their smartphone as a method to keep children calm or entertained. Handing over a smartphone to a child might be an immediate solution to an unhappy kid, but if it is not “kid proofed,” a child could easily access email, calendars or online videos without their parent even noticing.
The Kids Place app allows parents to transform their phone into a kid-safe zone with just a push of a button. Parents can pick out the apps they want their children to have access to, while locking out the essential functions of the phone — making phone calls, sending text messages and emails.
Q: What about older kids?
A: It’s a tough job, but parents have to make sure their kids are safe — knowing both what they’re doing on their phones and where their children are.
From knowing that your son or daughter has safely arrived at their friends house, to their first solo driving experience, or making sure they are paying attention in class rather than texting their friends, and especially that they’re not texting while driving — parents have the tools at their fingertips to help ensure their teens are being safe and smart with their smartphones.
Q: What options do parents have to keep their kids safe and monitor their smartphone usage?
A: It is important for teens to understand the rules and boundaries when using their smartphones. To help with this, parents can set up usage controls on the entire family’s phones. The usage controls feature allows parents to monitor the number of calls and texts, and disable the phone during certain times of day such as during school or after bedtime.
Q: How can parents balance safety with entertainment and learning, especially during the summer?
A: Even though summer break provides kids and teens down time, it is important that parents continue to monitor their children’s smartphone usage. The break is the perfect time to spend quality time together, so if you are planning a summer road trip be sure to download fun, yet educational, apps and games that the whole family can participate in. Introducing children to specific websites, such as Thinkfinity.org, is another way to engage them in learning while keeping it fun.
Q: What are some educational ways to use mobile devices?
A: Smartphones are no longer just used for checking emails or browsing the web. Parents can download educational-based apps that are designed to keep young minds active. If you find yourself at a restaurant waiting for your meal, why not take out your smartphone and “play” a few educational apps such as Stack the States or Learn Sign Language with your child? This waiting time can be used as an opportunity to get a child excited about learning again.