Parents have a tough job of nurturing, guiding, and teaching their kiddos. Innovators know this. Plenty of entrepreneurs have released tech tools that claim to help moms and dads protect their children from harm. Unfortunately, not all so-called “easy” solutions are simple to use — or ultimately effective.
If you’ve been looking for tech-based parenting safety products that actually do their job, check out the solutions below. They’re geared to help you on your mission rather than frustrate you by being overly complex or inadequate.
- Phones designed to protect kids without parental monitoring.
Purchasing the first phone for your child can be a challenging experience. You want your child to be able to text or call you, of course. But do you want your tween to have access to the Internet, app store, or social media? Probably not.
Though you could simply buy a regular smartphone and install parental monitoring widgets, you might be disappointed. A lot of monitoring systems fall short of working. Others can be too confusing, especially if you’re not a tech-savvy person. That’s where buying a phone for kids comes into the picture.
What should you look for in terms of the phone? Ideally, you want to find a model that enables limited communication and no connection with the Internet. That way, your kids won’t be exposed to the full breadth of the Internet and you won’t have to monitor them all the time. If your child balks at the notion of carrying around a “baby” phone, offer a take-it-or-leave-it deal. Above all else, be firm in your resolve to wait until your tween’s older than 13 or 14 to even consider a phone like yours. That’s your prerogative, particularly if you’re the one footing the bill. (Not to mention the one losing sleep because you want your kids to be safe!)
- GPS tracking devices that kids can’t turn off.
Parents of younger kids often worry about them getting lost — or worse. App makers know this, of course, which is why so many GPS trackers are marketed to mothers and fathers. However, the problem with this type of tracker is that it relies on the kids to keep their phones in hand. A phone is very easy to lose, and can fall out of a backpack or pocket.
Does this mean you can’t turn to GPS technology to know where your children are? Not at all. But you want them to have a wearable item that’s less likely to be removed or come off. That’s where stylish GPS watches can come into the picture.
GPS watches look good enough to be on-trend while still doing what they promise: Keeping your kids monitored using the power of satellites. Allow your children to pick the watch model they want, and read through all the instructions. Remember that GPS tracking can be useful in any situation where your child could get lost in a crowd, such as at a big amusement park or even the mall.
- Learning tablets with robust controls you can’t mess up.
If you have older children who are ready for limited Internet access for (mostly) educational purposes, you may be interested in learning tablets. Lots of top tech brands have introduced tablets for kids into the marketplace. What makes these tablets different from the ones that you’d buy for yourself? In addition to being highly durable, they include tons of parental controls.
The parental features vary from tablet to tablet, so you’ll want to do your homework. You can expect that most will offer some kind of pin or password to keep very young kids from snooping the Internet. Nevertheless, don’t put it past your kids to figure out your passcode. Kids are remarkably observant, especially when you don’t think they’re paying attention.
What you and your children need is a tablet that will allow a bit of online freedom within defined parameters. Some tablets provide you with tiered parent control options. This means you can loosen the reins as your kids get older and more responsible.
- Kid-friendly e-readers with built-in security nets.
Do you have a growing bookworm on your hands? You’ll want to feed your child’s insatiable curiosity, but not at the expense of exposing them to every book in the world. That’s when a kid-friendly e-reader can come into play.
Depending upon how old your child is, you’ll probably want a different version of an e-reader. Some are very, very basic. They’re so basic that they’re only meant for a specific age of reader, which is fine. Other e-readers have the option of growing with your child. Some even have special pins that allow you to use them as full-blown e-readers for your own purposes. Most importantly, you’ll want one that puts you squarely in the driver’s seat regarding which books are downloaded—and which stay far away from your child’s peering eyes.
You’ll definitely want to embark on some significant research before deciding which e-reader is the right investment for your family at the moment. Most are offered at a reasonable price point that’s much lower than, say, a 2-in-1 laptop with a responsive screen. Still, you don’t want to pay $100 for a device that’s only going to be useful for less than a year. So think long-term before you hit the “buy” button on Cyber Monday or that frantic week before the last holidays of the year.
Even if you’re not a tech wizard, you shouldn’t have to buy tech items for your kids that you can’t understand or fully utilize. Rather, be a little picky and opt for safety tech that’s simple to figure out and will help you be the best, most protective parent you can.