We live in such a connected world. It’s hard to come to a decision of whether or not we want our child to have access or be accessed through the technological world. Kids are getting cell phones and tablets at younger ages now-a-days and it’s easy to get to that point where your kid wants to be a part of the technological world. I am by no means judging anyone out there. I am simply giving my story, from my own experience.
My personal opinion is that Screen Time can be like a drug in the sense that it DOES bring endorphin release but too much of it can be addicting. It can bring relaxation, peace, help us wind down after a long day, or even be an avenue of learning or time with our families.
Do I think technology is evil? No, I have been known to binge watch a few shows myself! However, just as the saying goes, too much of anything can be a bad thing. Also, unfiltered content for our kids is just asking for trouble. That being said, I would like to share some of the ways we can be mindful of the content that is entering our homes through technology.
Public Television: Okay, television is a tough one as I feel that it is kind of a free for all. Unless you have a good handle on specific local programming and make sure your child only watches during certain shows or times, this is definitely one that we steer clear of because I just never know what commercial may come on.
Cable TV: I have personally made the decision that I would rather have to type in my personal pin number on our cable device each time I would like to watch something than for my children to end up seeing something I feel they shouldn’t. We have set the limits under parental controls and used a pin that only my husband and I know.
If there is a way of knowing your history, opt-in. Accountability is your friend and being able to know if a child accessed something will help you stay on top of keeping those filters active. Because let’s face it, they are smart and they may have your pin figured out in no time. (little code crackers hahaha!) Our cable service and some of those smart tv’s out there have capability of accessing apps such as YouTube or Netflix as well. So, if you can put a lock on access for those, go for it as well. I know it seems like a hassle, but there is peace of mind knowing your children can’t access it without you knowing about it. There are a lot of different settings so make sure to go in and see them all.
We have parental locks on these too. There is an area under settings on the Apple devices such as iPads, iPhones, & iPod touch. Under General Settings you can place restrictions on the device. We both require a password to get into the iPad and a password to download an app. This way I can control when my children are using their devices and I can do a little research if needed on apps. A good resource I have used for researching is CommonSenseMedia.org Also, another good resource is Focus On The Family’s Pluggedin.com These sights give very good insight into the movies. Some may have spoilers, so be warned. Although, I’d rather a spoiled movie than a spoiled child.
Remember, each child is different. Some games may not be necessarily bad, but our kids’ brains are still developing and some games are quite intense and can cause nightmares or anxiety.
I have a rule for my kids, if they ignore me, or can’t “hear” me, when I’m talking to them then the game is too intense and cuts into what’s more important, which is family and being respectful. They also know that if they get cranky when it’s time to get off, then the device is having more of a negative effect than a positive one and they won’t be able to play as much.
Just trust your gut when it comes to games. Listen in on their conversations when discussing the games or even while they are gaming. You can really get a sense of the feeling coming from the game and be able to talk with your child about them readily.
My son had to get a laptop for school otherwise I honestly think my child would not have gotten a laptop at all in my household. I would much rather prefer a home desktop computer in a communal room where someone can see the kids at all times. However, since it was a school requirement, as soon as we got the device I set up a parent account right away as soon as we set it up and I set up a child’s account.
Microsoft allows me to set the internet controls on this laptop. It will even send me a weekly report and allow me to set up a time limit on the laptop. I can block websites if I need to. There should also be restrictions on what can be downloaded onto the computer. You should always set yourself as an administrator. This not only helps with safeguarding your child but also protecting the laptop from unwanted downloads.
I know, I know, our middle-schoolers don’t want to be called children. What I have helped our kids realize is that child accounts don’t mean that they are children or that I think they are too immature, it means that there are people out there who actually seek to harm others and these are just stronger defenses against those people.
We talk about accountability and about honesty in our home. Checking in with each other is not a childish thing to do. It is a thing we do because we are family and we care about each other. We hold each other accountable.
Yes there is also the ability to set it to where you can have a pin for anything that is being accessed beyond the rating that you set it at. Also, you can add shows to the list. So, for example, maybe you don’t want your child to turn into a whiney child like Calliou. Or if you’re like me, you just really can’t stand a few shows out there. Well, now you can specifically add certain shows you don’t want your kids watching. You can set the level that is freely allowed and then ones that require a pin. Praise the Lord for the extra sanity in our house! More info on that here.
YouTube/ Kids YouTube:
Nope, nope and nope. We have some very strict rules about youtube and honestly there is so much dark content out there that I do not allow my kids to watch youtube unless I have a very close eye on what they are watching. The account on the television is connected to the account on my phone. There are only a few YouTubers that I allow them to watch and they know who they are. If I have to step out of the room for a second I can see what they are watching on my phone. I can even pause it or change the video from my phone as well. Honestly, some of these youtube channels drive me insane. They make me very anxious. I don’t know if it’s all the yelling or the non-stop talking or maybe the background music but we try to refrain from youtube as much as possible.
However, while watching together there are very many channels that we do watch with the baby. There are plenty of animal sound songs, phonics, regular nursery rhymes that are fun and relaxing and even my oldest kids will sing along.
(For the baby’s sake- *wink*)
I also use youtube for their 8 hour baby lullaby and sounds. It has rain sounds and ocean sounds and I even put it on when I can’t sleep and it really helps us all relax. The baby knows when it’s nap time as soon as the sounds come on.
This article gives the exact reason why we don’t put our trust in apps, even if they are kids apps. Read further for info on Kids YouTube.
We don’t know a whole lot about this one other than what is on our iPads but my kids know that we do not allow anything that allows chat or access to people on the web. Usually if there is access to stuff like that, the game will have a higher rating. You should always at least check. This is one of those areas that always gives me the creeps because some random stranger could be talking to our kids. Ew.
Now, I know there is so much more out there and more in-depth walkthroughs on how to put those safeguards in place. I’d love to share a bit more on that content but I fear I’d write a whole book. If you have questions feel free to ask me. Or if you need more help filtering content don’t hesitate to ask a sales associate or to get someone who is very tech savvy to help you. Your kids are worth it!!
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23