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Kid-Safe Your Gifted Gadgets: Check List

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December 28, 2012

The holidays have arrived and with that come new smartphones, new tablets, and new iPods for the family. If you gifted any new or used devices to your children – you need to make sure they are child-safe. Kids are more tech savvy than ever these days. Chances are, when you were passed their Christmas wish list there is at least one techy item listed. One way to save money and make everyone happy is pass down your old electronics to your tweens or teens when you upgrade.  Of course there are some electronics like televisions, DVD players and the like that you can just carry up to their room and say “here you go”. But, some other devices need a little care before passing them on.

Here are a few things to double check that you may not have thought about when gifting the device to your kids.

1. Clear it of all of your important data. No need for your 12-year-old to have to read your boring spreadsheets from work. If you are gifting a computer, back up and remove all of your files. If you are passing on a smartphone reset it to remove your contacts, text messages, photos, and calendar appointments.

2. Uninstall unnecessary programs. If you have specialized programs for work, IM programs that you don’t want the kids to use, VPN programs or anything else that kids will look at and say “huh?” uninstall it before passing on the device. The less clutter, the better.

3. Update the virus software:  You do not want your little ones browsing the web and inadvertently infecting their computer. Make sure that the virus software is up-to-date. For PCs I recommend Free AVG. Set it to update automatically and to run frequent late night scans so that you don’t have to worry about it.

4. Install a Spyware/Malware protector: Just like you need to protect the device from viruses, you also need to guard against Spyware. Spybot is a great, free option.

5. Configure Paternal Controls: This is the most important one on the list. You do not want little eyes to see what they should not see. And you certainly do not want your kids having a ball in the app store making purchases. Be sure to enable parental controls on the computer, tablet, or smartphone that your kids will use.  All phone carriers have great products available to install on smartphones to protect your kids. Check with your carrier for details. The iPad, iPod Touch, and Kindle Fire also offer parental controls in the settings. And the app store for iOS, and the Play Store for Android there are plenty of parental control apps that you can download. Many are free and offer great protection.

6. Give them a quick lesson: Ok yes… we know that most kids will not need it at all. My 6 year-olds have been good with the computer, smartphone, iPad, game system, etc. since they were 4. But, if you think that they need it, point them in the right direction.  Sit together and decide what apps to download or what websites to bookmark. They will be happy and not have to ask you every 5 minutes to install a new app, or approve a new website.

7. Let them enjoy: Technology is a part of our kid’s lives now. Our job as parents is to nuture the learning process, and teach moderation. Let them learn and enjoy..

Are you kids using a new device this holiday season?

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