GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP)–Between returning to school and the Christmas season, kids’ wish-lists are sure to include iPhones, iPads, Xbox, Wii and other tech gadgets.
Parental tech adviser Buddy Knight offers 10 suggestions when pondering new technology purchases for kids:
1) Match the gift to the age and maturity level of the child. Ask yourself such questions as “What would I do with a Web-enabled phone at age 13?” Be a parent, not a best friend. Be wise in what you choose to give your kids.
2) If purchasing a new computer, be sure to include parental control software in the budget. The software delivered with the system usually lasts for 90 days and may not provide the best protection.
Links to some recommended monitoring and filtering software products:
Net Nanny, netnanny.com
Safe Eyes, internetsafety.com
Web Watcher, webwatcherkids.com
Covenant Eyes, covenanteyes.com
3) New equipment purchases open up good opportunities to develop household rules. Define the amount of time that can be spent using the devices, what is acceptable, safety rules, and penalties for violating rules. On new computers, give each user their own account and password so if someone violates the rules, you’ll know who.
4) Two good rules for small Web-enabled devices are:
— Do not allow children to use portable Web-enabled devices behind closed doors.
— Do not allow children to keep portable devices in their rooms at night. Knight cautions: “They don’t need to be tempted to do things — the later it gets, the stupider we get.”
5) Set up game systems in public areas in the home, not in kid’s rooms. Parents need to monitor what games are being played. If game systems are Web-enabled, parents should be sure children do not visit inappropriate sites. “Xbox has fewer Web surfing capabilities out of the box, but there are hacks that kids can find online,” Knight says.
Viruses can enable hackers to control computers and store files on kids’ hard drives without their knowledge.
Child pornographers are outsourcing the storage of their material to unsuspecting computers.
7) Understand all the capabilities of the devices you are giving. Look for any controls available to parents to protect kids.
8) “Give non-technology gifts; get kids off the Internet!” Knight declares.
9) Parents should be careful about what DVDs they gift. R-rated DVDs may look OK on the package, but they are often rated for violence or soft-porn.
10) Consider protecting your equipment by buying extended service plans, especially those that cover accidental damage, when purchasing upper-end laptops for gaming. Accidents will happen.
Used by permission of the Southern Baptist TEXAN, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Buddy Knight is the founder of Knight’s Quest Ministries, on the Web at www.knightsquest.org. Knight’s materials include “Sex, Kids and the Internet: A Workbook for Parents of 21st Century Children.”