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Keeping Kids Safe on Handheld Devices

December 17, 2012 4:15am (EST)

Electronics are popular gifts during the holiday season. Many kids, perceived to have been exceptionally well-behaved by Mr. Claus, will be getting Kindles, iPads, Nexuses… Nexi… and other handheld devices. Those gifts are great and will help kids get their homework done and have fun while keeping them digitally fluent.

However, we need to make sure they’re going to be safe on those devices. Check out these tips and tools for keeping kids safe while they enjoy their new gifts.

1.Talk to your child about internet safety. Set rules about when and where they are allowed to use their devices as well as what types of chat are acceptable. Let them know that things like their address and phone number aren’t appropriate to share.

2.Know every password. Do you know your 15-year-old’s Facebook and Twitter passwords? You should. Besides giving you complete power to wield when they’re in need of a consequence, it will also ensure that you know what’s really on their Facebook feed and personal messages and not just what your clever teen has set their privacy settings to allow you to see. (Legally, Facebook is for kids over 13. They mean it and even have this page for reporting underage Facebook use.)

3.Check out this how-to video on keeping your iPad safe for kids:

4.Check out kid-safe iPad (and iPhone) browsers like this free one from McGruff, yes, the same McGruff we watched in commercials decades ago. It does look like the reviews are a little stronger for the browsers you pay for (some are $2.99 and $4.99), which seem like minimal investments for your child’s safety.

5.The Amazon Android app store has an app called Net Nanny that’s available for free download. It’s the recipient of the 2012 PC Magazine’s Editor’s Choice Award and has gotten good reviews from users, which you can check out right on the purchase (again, free) page.

Read your owner’s manual for device-specific instructions and settings for safety. If you’re trying out these safety features, then log on to review them, too. Your opinion affects upgrades and adjustments by the creators of these apps as well as informs your fellow parent colleagues about whether or not a program is worth the cost.

What apps and tips are helping you keep your children safe on handheld devices this year?

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