Planning on gifting your child a new device this holiday season? Or are you receiving a new device and passing your old one along to your child? It’s exciting to get something new, but it’s also easy to forget that setting up a device a child will be using is not as simple as turning it on. Your child’s online safety is an important step in the process that you don’t want to miss, but if you follow these simple steps you can rest assured your child is protected when using their new (or new to them) device.
Start with a Clean Slate
If you’re the one lucky enough to receive a shiny new device for the holidays and are planning on passing your old device down to your child, be sure to back up and erase your data first.
If you have an iPhone:
Securely erase your device by heading to Settings > General > Reset and tapping Erase All Content and Settings.
If you have an Android phone:
Make sure to encrypt your phone’s data first: Go to Settings > Security and then look for an Encryption setting, the location of which may vary depending on the manufacturer and age of your device.
Next, go to Settings > System > Reset Options and choose Erase All Data (Factory Reset).
Regardless of the device type, it’s a good idea to wipe it clean so you can set it up with your child’s user profile. Don’t have profiles set up for your child? That’s the next important step.
Set Up Accounts For Your Child
It’s important to set up online accounts for your child so they can be properly safeguarded by parents. A good start is setting up an online profile for them so they aren’t sharing your account. While sharing accounts may seem easier, it’s a good idea to create a new profile for your child so they do not have access to your personal data or any sensitive content.
If you’re an Apple user, the first step would be creating an Apple ID for your child (a process which includes providing their birthdate). This support article details the steps required, and once this is done your child’s ID can be added to your Apple Family and can be used to set up your child’s new device.
If you’re an Google user, Google Families is your first step to linking your child’s accounts with yours. Once you’ve created a Gmail address and profile for your child, you can link that profile to the rest of your family’s and use it to set up your child’s new device.
Set Up Parental Controls
Parental controls are important tools which allow you to monitor and limit your child’s screen time. It’s a good idea to sit down as a family and discuss screen time expectations and limits so your child (if they are old enough) is aware before they get their device. There are a host of parental control apps out there, such as Apple Screen Time if you’re an Apple user or Google Family Link if you’re an Android user.
To set up parental controls from your iPhone, you need to turn on Family Sharing and link your child’s Apple ID. After that, follow the specific instructions to set up Screen Time.
Google Family Link works if both you and your child have Android devices. It also works if you, the parent, have an iPhone and wish to manage your child’s Android device. Setting it up requires both you and your child to download the app (one is labeled “for parents” and the other is labeled “for children and teens”) and for your child to have their own Google account.
These kinds of apps allow for such controls as setting screen time limits, reviewing apps before they’re downloaded, and blocking inappropriate content. While the apps aren’t hack-proof by your children and the filters aren’t always perfect, it’s always worth the effort to set them up so you can regulate your child’s screen time without making them feel like you’re physically hovering over them.
Download Games and Apps
While you can’t guarantee they’ll use them, pre-loading apps and games on your child’s device is a good way to get them to try out some educational games that you as a parent have already vetted. Do some research on which games you think might be fun and beneficial for your child’s current age and try to get them excited about playing them.
Get the Right Accessories
A child’s ears are much more sensitive than an adult’s so it’s important to protect them from high volume levels that could damage their hearing. This list of kids headphones tested 37 pairs that claimed to be safe for children but nearly a third didn’t actually limit volume to the recommended safety levels at all. We recommend doing your research before buying any headphones that claim to be safe for children.
A screen protector is also a good investment for a device being used primarily by a child. Children are definitely not as careful as adults when it comes to being gentle with their devices, but no need to break the bank on an expensive screen protector. Inexpensive screen protectors work just as well to guard against spills and scratches, but a screen protector that doubles as a stand is extra convenient for portability.
While putting these safeguards in place may seem like a hassle, the peace of mind you will feel in knowing you’ve done all you can to keep your child and their identity safe is well worth it. Have questions or want to make sure you’re covering all your bases regarding your child’s online safety? Get in touch with one of our experts at email@example.com to start a conversation.