Goff Speak: Screen time safety

The lazy days of summer may be upon us, but keep in mind bad guys online never take a vacation.

child and computer
Photo courtesy of Aliya Dastour/Adobe Stock

Summertime means fun in the sun, but when it comes to our kids, it also means more time spent looking for things to do. When boredom strikes, it’s easy for us as parents to reach for our phone or our tablet. Devices work the same way for kids. They are instant entertainment and many times are very convenient. With this in mind it may be the best time to review internet safety with your child. The lazy days of summer may be upon us, but keep in mind bad guys online never take a vacation.

If you have young kids, I would suggest introducing them to Clicky, the kid-friendly robot on NetSmartz. Think of him as the McGruff of the internet. Clicky is a trusted character who uses witty raps, videos, games and e-books to teach kids what to watch out for online. The animations empower kids when it comes to everything from reporting bad things they find on the web  to why it’s important to protect their password. It’s essentially internet education through play. NetSmartz is great because it has separate programs tailored just for tweens and teenagers. For the older kids there’s even a Student Project Kit that can be introduced in any group setting: school, church, camp, etc. It’s a great resource for parents and their teens trying to avoid the dark side of cyberbullies and gossip.

There are also free apps out there that set out solely to help make device time more productive. Finny is a great option in the App Store and Google Play that allows parents to make the rules by setting time limits on their child’s favorite apps. Custom quizzes and games pop up to engage the child in a learning experience that  balances screen time with education and the social platforms they want to be on.

(June 2017)