Keeping high-tech gifts safe for kids

Reading Time: 4 minutes

By Perimiter Guardian

Children increasingly want – and expect – high-tech presents for Christmas these days so here’s the ultimate buying guide on what parents need to know to keep kids safe.

And while it might sound obvious, ALWAYS choose devices carefully for your child based on their age and maturity, and check the instructions and availability of parental controls.
Whether you’re buying toys and consoles, mobile phones, a tablet, laptop for school or repurposing older devices, here’s what you need to know.

TOYS

PlayStation, X-Box, VR headsets, robots, drones, handheld gaming devices such as Nintendo Switch or PS Vita, iPod touch etc

What To Be Aware Of

• Anything that is internet-enabled has the ability to let strangers into your home – check each device’s instructions to set age-appropriate internet restrictions
• Always ensure you have access to any associated apps or registration details
• Ensure you add these devices to your home router parental controls
• Check the age rating for each game you purchase
• Consider who the developer of the product is and whether they are easily adaptable or connectable to the devices you already own.

NEW PHONE

What To Be Aware Of

• It may be easier to purchase the same type of device as the rest of your household (such as Apple or Samsung etc) as this means you can create a Family Link or Family Sharing account (don’t let them use your account, as the restrictions are set for an adult). You will also be able to share apps, music, photos etc.
• Ensure you add this new device to your home router parental controls
• For younger children, you may wish to install web monitoring apps
• Set your Google searches to ‘SafeSearch’ mode
• Ensure your operating system has parental controls set up such as Windows or Mac OS (Apple products)
• Set rules and stick to them, such as leaving their phone out of their bedroom at night. Night-time use of internet devices can cause a myriad of problems including more likelihood of cyberbullying, sexting and sleep disorders. Set these habits and rules early for less stress.
• A new phone for first-time users comes with a lot of responsibility, and regardless of your child’s age, communicating why the internet can be a dangerous place is one of the most important parts of phone ownership.

NEW TABLET

What To Be Aware Of

• You can purchase tablets without 3G/4G (internet/data and phone access independent of Wi-Fi) and are only able to access the internet via Wi-Fi, which has pros and cons. Be aware that your home Wi-Fi router restrictions won’t apply when the tablet is used elsewhere, such as friends’ houses or public Wi-Fi spots such a shopping centres etc.
• Set your search engine to ‘SafeSearch’ mode to block out pornographic content
• Consider whether you wish to match the same type of tablet as your phone or home computer, which will ensure you can set up a Family Link or Family Sharing account

LAPTOP

What To Be Aware Of

• Ensure your operating system has parental controls set up such as Windows (Microsoft products) orMac OS (Apple products)
• Consider whether you wish to match the same type of laptop as your phone or home computer, which will ensure you can set up a Family Link or Family Sharing account
Ensure you add this new device to your home router parental controls
• Set your Google searches to ‘SafeSearch’ mode

GIFTING YOUR OLD DEVICES (such as a phone or tablet)

What To Be Aware Of

• Ensure you restore to factory settings before giving it to your child and delete photos, message, mail and iTunes accounts etc.
• Create a Family Link or Family Sharing account – don’t let them use your account, as the restrictions are set for an adult
• Check that they are only using the school’s Wifi while at school
Help your child when creating their password (they will most likely forget it)

CHRISTMAS DEVICE BUYING CHECKLIST

☐ Have you enabled restrictions on your router info here
☐ Have you set up Family Link or Family Sharing accounts?
☐ If you are purchasing a new Apple iPad, iPad mini or iPhone click here
☐ If you are purchasing a new Android device (eg Samsung phone, tablet, Chromebook) click here
☐ If you are purchasing a Microsoft product, for example, an Xbox, Surface tablet or laptop, click here
☐ If you are giving your children an old device of yours, have you restored it to factory settings?
☐ Have you checked your Xbox, PlayStation, VR headset, robot, handheld gaming device, drone or any internet-enabled device for any age restrictions adaptability?
☐ Have you communicated with your children about being responsible and safe on the internet with their new device?

Compiled by Perimeter Guardian, a technology-based company that provides protection to school communities across Australia. It partners with schools to provide protection particularly in the areas of new technologies and cyber safety.