Five years ago, the idea of handing your kid a Blackberry to play with would have seemed crazy. Today, kids (and parents) are snubbing portable game systems for a smart phone, teens are totting tablets to class, and you'll regularly see parents placating whiny toddlers in restaurants with a shiny, black, $500 gizmo. Given that these mobile devices have infiltrated the ranks of our children, how do you go about making a smart phone or tablet kid-proof?
Toddlers and Young Kids
At this age, most people aren’t going to be comfortable with giving their children web access, so kid proofing a mobile device is relatively easy. Turning off Internet access altogether (both cellular and wi-fi) accomplishes the web issue without any fuss. The more challenging aspect is making a smart phone or tablet—an inherently fragile device with a glass display—resistant to being dropped, drooled on or otherwise physically harmed. Once you find a suitably protective case for your device, add a clear screen protector and remember that most models are not waterproof, so keep the sippy cups out of reach during play time.
The iGuy Foam Case for iPad from Speck (Image 1) is an example of kid-friendly tablet case design. You may not want to be caught dead carrying this yourself, but your kid will love it and that iPad may actually survive the toddler years.
Elementary Age Kids
You’ll still want a protective case, although you can probably graduate to something a little less out there. Time to have a parental talk about inappropriate web sites (it’s painful but this becomes more important later). Installing a web browser that limits sites via white list (only approved websites may be visited) is a good choice and most devices allow you to set a daily limit in terms of how many hours a user has Internet access. There are a few areas you may want to lock down altogether. For example, you may wish to use parental controls to disable the ability to initiate phone calls, turn off in-app purchases and if your device is equipped with a camera, you may want to disable this too —or at least remove any video conferencing apps.
The Otterbox Defender case (Image 2) for the Samsung Galaxy Tab offers bump, shock, drop and dust protection. The device inside isn’t impervious to kid damage, but it is considerably more rugged.
This is probably a good time to graduate to a black list web browser. This gives children more freedom, but still lets parents maintain some control by listing specific sites that will be blocked. If you want to verify their online habits, you can always check their browsing history. To reduce the likelihood of high monthly bills, use the device’s settings to restrict connectivity time, invest in unlimited talk and text plans and block calls to all but select phone numbers. There are apps and cell plans that let you set limits for all these activities and some will even e-mail you a notification when limits are reached. It’s a good idea to limit the maximum volume of the device starting at this age, as the headphones come out.
One of the biggest concerns for parents (outside of stratospheric cell bills) is the safety issue presented by texting and driving. You can install apps such as DriveSmart Plus from Location labs on Android smart phones and tablets to limit the functionality of devices while driving. It detects when the user is in a vehicle and disables distracting features such as phone and text capabilities. In terms of web use and inappropriate sites, you can try the blacklist browser method, but do so realizing that in all likelihood your teen knows more about this technology (and how to override it) than you do; that’s where the talk you had earlier about inappropriate websites comes in. You’ll still want a protective case—although they’ll insist on something cool but the best protection might be serving notice that your teen pays for replacement of a damaged device.
Original article by Brad Moon, Wired.com.
This page was last modified 21:20, 20 September 2011 by howto_admin.