Even though I was never one of those parents who swore against propping their kids in front of a tv, I'm not a fan of excessive screen time either and while I try to be hopeful about my ability to limit screen time for my children, I am also realistic and know that screen time is going to happen no matter what and at some point my kids' eyes will be glued to a cell phone screen or an iPad (trust me...it happens to the best of us.. ha!) Of course I'd rather have my kids invest their time in something more productive but I myself spend a lot of time playing with my phone so who am I to forbid them from doing so?! Internet and screens are part of our times whether we like it or not.
Like many parents I know, I have allowed my kids to have iPads and cell phones, all under strict supervision (of course), where I basically monitor their apps, downloads, conversations, video watching behavior and so on. The girls have phones (with a line) and they have children accounts under my Apple ID so that every time they want to download a new app, it has to go through me first for approval. I have also allowed them to have Instagram accounts with the condition that they are set to "private" and only I can approve or add followers. Even though so far our system has worked great, I always fear the unsurmountable amount of information that is at their fingertips because I am aware that as much as I try, I probably will never be able to filter every little thing on the internet.
I am aware that not everyone is on board with giving their children a cell phone or even access to a computer or iPad, and that is totally ok, but since I do, I always have to be on top of internet security in order to protect my children to the best of my abilities. On many occasions I have found the girls watching videos or reading things that I don't find appropriate for their age and many other times I have seen videos that are seemingly innocent when in reality they aren't... it's scary....very scary...(picture Barbies cursing, robotic cartoons using vulgar language, naked dolls, etc!)
So in my quest to find ways to protect my children from the undeniable dangers of the internet, I came across a great guide found on the VPN Mentor Blog. This is an incredibly comprehensive guide titled "The Ultimate Parent Guide for Protecting Your Child on the Internet"; it covers important topics such as mobile phones and apps, social media and cyberbullying among many others and I cannot recommend it enough. I encourage every parent to read through this guide and document themselves on the importance of internet safety for children.
Whether you decide to give your child a phone or whether or not you allow him/her access to the internet, I believe everyone should be aware of the dangers of the internet and be informed about what we can do as parents to protect our precious children.
(Bonus pictures of my kids and their screens)