It seems silly to think of Internet safety when it comes to toddlers and preschoolers, but it is never too early to start establishing good habits. Internet exposure starts early with smartphone and tablet apps specifically geared for toddlers and preschoolers. Many families are even doing much of their television watching via the Internet versus through cable or satellite. But at this age, children are almost always using the Internet with a parent or guardian helping them out, which makes this a perfect age to start building a good understanding of what is ok and what isn’t.
These 5 tips will help you start to build your household Internet usage guidelines for toddlers and preschoolers:
Limit usage of the computer/device to a common area – to be able to help teach good habits, you need to know what the child is doing with the device. Keep usage to only times and places when a parent/guardian can engage with the child.
- Set time limits – as with any screen time, it is important to establish usage time limits so that a child understands that this is not something to be used all the time, but is an occasional occurrence.
- Utilize parental control settings – with parental controls, you can put limits on site access. Some controls will even let you manage and monitor the time that a child is logged in. There are usually usage tracking settings as well – important for older kids. If it’s on a phone or tablet, you may want to set controls for in app purchases, to avoid any unwanted expenses.
- Create a list of acceptable sites/apps – provide your child with appropriate content and help them to understand what is meant for them and what isn’t (texting, not for them). It can be fun to search out game apps with your child that will provide them with ways to learn letters, numbers, shapes, etc. Work together to compile a group of apps and sites that will entertain and educate, and that won’t drive the adults in the room crazy.
- Utilize locking features – in order to achieve the control you would like to have, use the built in locking features on your phone, tablet or computer. That way, you can ensure you are aware of the time they are spending and the sites and apps they are accessing.
As children get older, there are many more habits and guidelines that are important to establish, but these five will give your child a solid foundation to build off of.