A few months back I saw a friend of mine post on Facebook about a highly inappropriate game that a lot of kids are playing. Because I have younger children, I had never heard of the game she mentioned. So I googled it and read the premise behind the game. I was appalled and disturbed by the idea of pre-teens playing it, and even more, I worried about how many kids were playing this game without their parents being aware of the violent backstory to it.
Tablets, cell phones, apps and videos are all a part of our reality nowadays. I’d be lying if I said I don’t let our kids watch TV or play on an iPad. So I started wondering, with easy accessibility to everything on the internet, how can we better monitor what our kids are watching and playing? If you’re like me, and you allow your kiddos to have a bit of screen time each day, here are some tips for you!
Common Sense Media
This non-profit, information packed site provides independent ratings and reviews of all things media. Not only can you find reviews on shows/games/apps you may be curious about, but you can also enter in a specific age range and search that way, too! So if you are tired of watching the same thing over and over again, this may be a great resource for you!
Am I the only one with kids who would rather watch videos of other kids playing with toys than play with toys themselves? It’s baffling. Some of the videos on YouTube are actually very educational and beneficial, so downloading YouTube Kids instead of the standard YouTube is a great way to censor what your kids can access. Upon downloading it, you set the age defaults, and you can turn off the search function completely if you want! You can report or block certain videos if your kid happens to find one that you find questionable. There is also a timer function if you want to limit YouTube usage.
What does all of this mean? It means you can feel good about what rabbit hole they are getting into with endless clicks, and they can still watch a random person open surprise eggs. Win, win.
This is similar to YouTube kids, but with more access to full-length kid friendly shows and movies! This is really handy because you use the same login information for your regular Netflix account, but you select a separate user profile specifically tailored for kid friendly viewing.
Did you know you can set restrictions right on your tablet?! Yeah. Neither did I, until I was telling my husband about this post and he showed me. Mind blown. Check your Settings. On Apple products it’s under General and then Restrictions. You can dial it down to movies and TV shows and restrict by ratings! With Apps, you can restrict by age appropriateness, and you can change music settings to not allow explicit songs. You can do the same thing on a Samsung tablet/phone by going to Settings and then Parental Controls. Brilliant!
App Store Ratings
Don’t be afraid to password protect EVERYTHING. This gives you control over what your kids are downloading, and you have a chance to research something before it ends up on your device. Check the age rating next to an app to get an idea if it is right for your kid. You can find it right next to the app title.
Screen Them Yourself
This can be the most fun option! Play the game yourself to check appropriateness or sit down and watch your child play the game. If it’s a TV show or a movie, then sit down and watch with them. I don’t always use a tablet as a babysitter. Sometimes it is our quiet time in the afternoon. Don’t be afraid to do this as a way to monitor what your kids are playing and watching! Cuddle up while you do so!
This quote from the Common Sense Media website jumped out at me, “Media and technology are at the very center of all our lives today–especially our children’s.” As a mama of two young kids, I feel like I need to do my part to know exactly what their little brains are absorbing!