Most devices used in the home include controls for making content safe for use by children. Elsewhere in our guide, we explain how to make your home Internet service safer for use by children. The advice below relates specifically to making devices like tablets and handheld devices suitable platforms for regular use by children.
Controlling the use of Apple devices
Apple provide a suite of Restrictions on their devices that enables controlled access to specific device features. You can access Apple's settings for device restrictions via the General page of the Settings app.
As a parent, you are able to restrict access to features like the Camera and Face Time, the iTunes store, installation or deletion of Apps and set content restrictions suitable for the age of the device user. At school, we use a similar set of restrictions to control access to Apple device features and content. Find out more about how to add Restrictions to Apple devices in the Apple help pages.
With Apple's Family Sharing, it is possible to further integrate your Apple device experience, including the restriction of purchases and providing child specific Apple ID's to which content restrictions will apply.
Controlling the use of Android Devices
A little more complex to setup than Apple devices, Android has its own controls that allow usage restrictions to be enforced through the use of 'restricted profiles'. The steps for configuring restricted profiles in recent versions of Android are explained in the Google Android help pages and in greater detail in this article by the Tech Advisor team.
Controlling the use of Amazon Devices
Amazon offers one of the best methods for controlling tablet use by children with their Parental Controls, which allows for blocking of specific device features and access to only an allowed selection of apps and other content. Amazon devices also promote good habits by requiring the completion of daily educational goals and setting time limits. For example, your child may have to complete 30 minutes of reading each day before they are allowed 30 minutes of time in other applications, after which the Kindle will allow no further use until the following day.
Amazon Parental Controls are set via the device settings, accessible by swiping down from the top of the screen and selecting 'More'. Amazon's own Kindle help guides explain how to apply parental controls.
It should be noted that many other devices in the home may use an Internet connection and offer the potential for social connections to be made. These devices can often also be managed to ensure safe use by children.
Consoles such as the XBox and Playstation make use of online stores for buying content (content that may be age-restricted), in addition to enabling conversation online, either verbally or in text form. Many games that can be played online offer in-game chat and even image sharing, which can be potentially inappropriate, offensive or threatening to players who are not of an appropriate age.
Exposure to abusive players can also be experienced during gameplay. For example, when playing Minecraft online a 'griefer' may be encountered - a malicious player who deliberately destroys or steals the players content in order to provoke a reaction. Whilst there is no method for managing the gaming behaviours of other players, the likelihood of encountering these negative behaviours is reduced by playing age appropriate games with similarly aged players. This might be possible by limiting online gameplay to a known circle school friends.
Both consoles, and others that offer the same functionality include controls that parents can apply in order to ensure that their children are not exposed to inappropriate communications whilst playing online. In addition to these in-game controls, similar restrictions can be placed on the purchasing of new content - whether this is new games, in game content, or related media (such as avatars). Consult your console operating instructions for more information about applying parental controls.
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