Finding an age-appropriate game for kids can be tricky at times. Only recently I found my son asking Siri a question and, as Siri sometimes does, it responded with some links which I would’ve wanted checking first. I always like to check the games he downloads first too, as there’s not just violent games – but apps about dating and gambling too.
Whilst these are fine for us adults, it’s my call on whether they should be appropriate for kids. So, I’m fine to head to mobile casinos and check out which is the best one for cashback and slots. I’m also OK to download apps like Tinder and swipe my way into a relationship, but it’s perhaps not appropriate for kids.
However, if you take a look into Google Play or the App Store, you’ll find a lot of results which may or may not be ideal for kids. I’ve take a hard-line approach, and the “family iPad” asks for a password on every download – plus I’ve made sure that my son doesn’t know what that password is.
You can, if you want to take things a step further, go into the parental controls on your device. They’re really very granular and – as an example on Android – set restrictions on apps, games, movies, TV programmes, books and music.
Have a look in there and you can decide which age range is appropriate. It only takes a few moments to do, and it’s a lot quicker than constantly monitoring.
Sure, you’ll still need to monitor internet usage of course. They may end up looking at inappropriate content by mistake too, just by clicking an attractive banner or pop-up for a free gift or an offer. It’s all-too-easily done, and then there’s the whole can of worms that is social media and “online friends”, who may or may not be who you think they are.
ISP’s have filters and controls in place, but when your child goes away from home those restrictions may not be in place, so you need to ensure that there’s some element of control on the mobile data connection – usually this is enabled as default but it’s always worth checking.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do is just to speak to your child. Be open and honest. Have that conversation and explain that, although the internet can be a wonderful educational tool and a good place to socialise and connect, there’s certain things that you should be wary of. People may not be as they seem. They may say things that they wouldn’t say face-to-face and promises can be broken
See, I’m old enough to remember when phones weren’t in schools. Kids never had them because they were too expensive or just couldn’t do any of the clever internet-connected tricks they can do today. There was no Instagram, no social media and there wasn’t really a way for school-friends to get in touch with you once you’d gone home.
For us adults, the choice is endless, but who’s monitoring us?