Safeguards to set up on new toys

I read an alarming story recently about a local kid racking up a £4k bill while playing on his dad's iPad. The boy had discovered his dad's password and things got a bit silly. It reminds me of my own children, craning their necks to see what I am typing into their tablets when they want this, that and the other installed.

Sunday, 10th January 2016, 9:35 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 6:49 am
JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin

It serves as a reminder that children need to be supervised and that they are indeed resourceful and clever! It is also a good time to go over the basics once again, now that Christmas is done and those shiny new toys are making the little ones eyes sparkle.

The most obvious thing to do is not a technological solution at all. Make sure you explain to your children what they can and cannot do and keep an eye on them. If you give them something that isn’t locked down and then leave them to it in their own rooms, expect things to go awry. They aren’t necessarily being naughty, as they may not understand that what they are doing is wrong or costing money. Simple supervision is the key.

The next obvious thing to do is to use the parental controls that are built into the operating system. If in doubt a simple online search should give you information about your child’s device and its particular settings. Things you should be looking for include how to set up restricted profiles, password protecting accounts and enabling age appropriate content restrictions. There are also third party apps that you can install if the basic settings aren’t enough.

Then of course there are settings for individual services and programs. For instance, Google Play has a whole parent guide which explains the ins and outs about enabling password authentication and that apps rated for children (0 - 12 years old) automatically require you to input your password when attempting to buy anything.

Any restrictions that we put in place via the software on a device is never going to be foolproof. Keep your passwords safe and remember that as grown ups, it is our duty to take care of the next generation. Whether that is by stopping them from racking up huge bills for us, or by preventing them from seeing something they should not, it is our job to keep them safe and educate them.

So with that said, may your browsing be fruitful, your kids happy and your wallets safe in 2016!