Parents: Tips for Smarter Holiday Tech Device Gift Giving

The holiday season is about to arrive and that means shopping for gifts.  If that includes tech gifts for children, there are some special considerations to take into account first.  To help parents and their kids have the best possible experience with the new devices, here are some tips that should help your kids enjoy their new gifts while protecting them from some of the dangers that exist online.

Do Your Homework

Start your shopping mission by looking at reviews.  Industry reviews by magazines are a good start, either online or in print form.  This includes bloggers, but in those cases, you need to know the reputation of the person giving the review.  The FTC requires that anyone who received compensation in any way, including a free unit, must disclose it as part of their review.

Next, look at online reviews by actual customers.  Most importantly, don’t just look at the number of reviews and the average score.  Pay particular attention to the highest and lowest ratings.  Many sites, including Amazon, give people the opportunity to search reviews based on the level of the reviews.  Knowing what others didn’t like about a device can avoid headaches later for your kids….and for you!

Open the Box and make Sure it Works.

Tech devices are usually very reliable, but you don’t want to be the parent who gives them the gift of their dreams only to have it not work.  If it works, great.  If not, you have time to get it replaced before the big day.  Personally, I’m not a fan of putting insurance plans on tech devices because they usually get replaced before they wear out, but they make sense if the device will be used by a very young child or be used in a risky environment.

Most devices these days come with at least a partial charge to them, depending on how long they’ve been sitting on the shelf, so make sure that the device has a full charge, because tech devices for kids are likely to get a lot of use as soon as their opened.  For newer designs, it’s possible that the charging cord is different than the other devices in the home.  Be sure that you have at least one spare charging cord around the house.

If you want to get the entire family a gift that they can all use, consider getting a multi-hub charging station.  Digital Trends did a great job reviewing some of the models available to you.

Cybersafety Starts on Day One!

If your child’s new “toy” allows for online access, now’s the time to put steps into place to protect your children from seeing content that is inappropriate for them.  Most search engines, including Google and Yahoo, have a feature known as “Safe Search”.  While not foolproof, this filter can prevent adult content from being seen on the device.  Be sure to set the filter on any potential search engines that might be used, not just those that you believe they will use.

Next, if desired, installing a parenting controls app should be done now, before any child ever gets to use the device.  There’s a wide variety of options available, and they can be as permissive or restrictive as a parent might want.

Naturally, your child will want to spend time on the device as soon as they rip open the gift wrap.  However, before the day is over, make sure that the device has a PIN installed to prevent unauthorized use by others.  The salesperson should be able to help with this, if needed.  Make sure that you have the codes in case you ever have the need to access the device.

Conclusion

Technology is probably going to play a big part in many families’ holiday gift giving.  By following these tips, you’ll make sure that it goes off as smoothly as possible and help protect your kids from the dangers that exist online.

About the Author

Joe Yeager is the founder of Safety Net of PA, LLC and has been a cybersafety advocate for several years. He is also an adjunct professor at Thomas Jefferson University. It was after his own daughter came across inappropriate content online that he became involved in helping others in the area. He is certified by the US Centers for Disease Control in Bullying Prevention and is the cyberbullying advisor to Fifty Shades of Purple against Bullying. He is also the author of #DigitalParenting- A Parent's Guide to Social Media, Cyberbullying &Online Activity which was chosen as an Editor’s Pick in April 2016. Joe is a member of the PedSafe Expert team

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