Tech Tuesday: Guides for Using Tech with Children

It seems like every few months a news story surfaces about children and the use of technology. As a parent, it can be overwhelming figuring out what to do when everywhere you look there is a new negative story about children and tech being brought to your attention.

Topics like setting reasonable limits, keeping children safe, avoiding inappropriate content, or watching for cyberbullying crop up in the media constantly. There are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of possible games, television shows, movies, or apps that children can access through digital devices. How on earth are you supposed to protect your child?

Fortunately for you, we’re here to take some of that burden away. We’ve picked out three great free websites that can help parents, caregivers and educators become familiar with what their children are interacting with during their screen time. We’ve also included some great resources on how to manage screen time and tech use as a family.

Get to Know the Ropes

Media Smarts

Media Smarts is a Canadian website devoted to media and digital literacy. They aim to give children the power to think critically when accessing media and digital resources.

Their website covers how to talk to children about a variety of digitally-related topics including: body image, violence, diversity, security, bullying and pornography. They also cover, looking at television, video games, music and the internet. They have resources for educators as well as parents, and present information in tips, workshops, games, or videos.

Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media is a non-profit from the USA. They review games, apps, television, movies and some books. Each review includes an age recommendation based on categories like language, violence, sex, drinking/drugs, or positive messages present. They also include a summary of the content and additional reviews for that item from both parents and children.

You can search for things based on the age of your child or by topic of interest. They also have guides, videos and articles covering a variety of digital topics, as well as “parent ultimate guides” about things like TikTok, Google classroom, and other digital trends.

Internet Matters

Internet Matters is a U.K based non-profit organization. They work with governments and technology partners to give parents accurate and helpful information and advice on how to help their children use the internet safely.

Their easy to navigate articles cover a variety of online issues, including: inappropriate content, bullying, screen time, and privacy. Users can search for articles based on the age of the children.

One feature of the site that can be particularly helpful is their large library of step-by-step guides for setting controls. They cover how to adjust the settings on phones and tablets, social media, apps, and entertainment sources like iTunes and Netflix.

Make a Family Media Plan

mother and child looking together at a laptop computer

So, you’ve done the research on what media your child is engaging with. You’ve discussed with them ways to stay safe in the digital world. What’s next? 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends making a Family Media Plan.  

One of the reasons young children are so interested in tech is that they see us plugged in all the time. Whether it’s checking email on our phones, or relaxing with Netflix after work, they see that we spend a lot of time on screens – and they want to do the same! 

Having a family media plan helps to not only set healthy media boundaries for your children but also for yourself.  With this great online tool created by the AAP, it’s super easy to create a media plan for your family

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