In the digital age that we live in, there are so many options in which we can be connected. And with smartphones so ubiquitous and just about everyone owning some form of a personal computer, it’s only a matter of time before your child will ask if they can get one. And depending on the age, this could be a simple “yes or no” type decision or it could be a little more involved (costs, parental controls, responsibilities, etc.). So if you are looking to find the best laptop for your child, we have a couple of tips that will help.
As a parent (and a cheap/frugal parent at that) my first priority is always going to be money. But that being said, there are plenty of cost saving options that provide affordable laptops that will keep the kids happy and last for a long time. One of the better brands that has emerged is Asus. Their Eee line of laptops have gained a reputation for being both affordable as well as high quality making them a great value.
Another more reasonable option is a netbook. These smaller, more streamlined computers resemble a laptop but have been optimized for music, video and internet surfing. What this does is cut out some of the higher-priced, raw computing power but optimizes the performance for stuff that kids are most likely going to be doing anyhow.
Another reason I like the netbooks is that there are options that are tailored to different age ranges. For instance, the Disney kid’s netbook (coincidentally designed by Asus) is perfect for younger kids who will want to get online and play games, maybe surf the internet and it also comes with a variety of parental controls that give you the flexibility to control where they go and who they talk to online.
And if you are looking for a netbook for a teenager, there are some really great netbooks that are designed for media consumption such as youtube and mp3s. And because many of these netbooks are optimized for portability they can be used on travel or even for taking notes and watching videos for classes.
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Internet safety for parents is something you should not ignore and doesn’t have to be too much of a burden. If you follow our simple steps you can rest assured that your family’s use of the internet will be safe and secure and you can avoid at least one of the many headaches that come with parenting.
Supervision (tip one)
Whilst there are many tools out there to make internet supervision easier for you, children should be supervised 100% of the time when it comes to their digital world. With so many pitfalls around every corner; even the best parental control programs are not able to block every potential area of inquiry so it is worth having the added security of your direct supervision. This is the only real way of guaranteeing 100% internet safety but should be nevertheless done alongside these other options.
Parental control software (tip two)
Parental control software is an absolute wonder for anyone scared of letting their children view the internet for fear of what they might be exposed to. As we’ve mentioned, no software can block 100% of illicit material online but parental control software can block so much adult material from search engines and links that you should definitely invest in it as your first line of defence. Even the most cautious searchers can be exposed to things they’d much rather not uncover.
Talking to your child about the internet (tip three)
This is often the most overlooked but certainly one of the most important of all precautions parents should take. Whilst supervision and software will work, you have to bear in mind that at some stage these ‘parental controls’ will have to be removed. When that happens it is much better if your child is prepared adequately to deal with the internet in a mature and responsible way. A few key areas you should consider covering with your child are:
- Social networks and social interaction – at a young age this is incredibly important due to the potential risks of online grooming, cyberbullying and sexual predation. As you’re children get older they need to be made aware of appropriate and inappropriate posting, comments and other things. In much the same way as we aim to foster our children’s emotional development, you also need to foster their internet development and having frank and open conversations about these subjects will help.
- Adult sites and pornography – Once your children are older they are bound to encounter adult material online and to be perfectly honest you really can’t stop this happening unless you remove internet access from them entirely. A better way of discouraging them to engage with this material is to explain the hazards, moral and social problems associated with this kind of material and to honestly talk about the exploitative nature of the content. Many parents will not be comfortable with this but there are 3rd party sources online who can help so don’t be too worried.
- Browsing safety and downloading – explaining the risks of downloading illegal material, such as games and films containing spy ware and viruses is the best way to ensure that this material is not viewed. However you will need to make your children aware of the alternatives such as iTunes and Spotify so that they are not tempted nonetheless.
These are undoubtedly the best internet safety tips that you should be focusing on. Using all three will help keep your children safe and also help them develop a strong awareness of these online dangers, making them better adapted for use in their adult lives.
Jane writes about internet safety for children in order to help raise awareness to parents about the potential dangers of the digital world.
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