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Last updated: 24.07.17

Safeguarding & technology: how to protect children from harm

In today’s digital world, children and toddlers are growing up surrounded by the latest technology but how can we ensure that they are kept safe from any damaging content?

In our digital world, for the first time in history, children and toddlers are being raised in a world that is rife with technology. While some parents restrict their children's usage of mobiles, tablets and various devices, others are embracing it, despite the effects of the use of technology in the early stages of development being widely unknown.

Many early years practitioners will even argue that technology doesn’t have a place in the pre-school education environment for a number of reasons, including the risk of dangerous content falling into the hands of the most vulnerable.

Yet contrary to this, many studies have revealed huge benefits of incorporating technology into the learning processes of children, including improved retention of information, higher engagement and enhanced learning.

Technology isn’t something parents can run away from, with schools, libraries, shops and businesses utilising digital technology to keep up with competitors and make things easier for their customers and users. Preventing children from using technology will only leave them feeling left behind and curious as to what they are missing out on.

So if our children and toddlers are using technology, how can we protect them from harm? Here we take a look at how best to safeguard your children:

Child-friendly apps

Touch screen devices like tablets and iPads have proven to be some of the most popular devices among young children, mostly because they are easier to use and less likely to be damaged. However, if a child searches a term that is completely innocent, explicit and harmful content can quickly become available.

Parents can prevent this by downloading child-friendly apps that are catered to those aged under five. Simple apps like Shape Arts: Geometry Creations, Moose Math and LetterSchool make learning fun and interactive, replacing traditional (and more messy) childhood activities like painting and drawing.

Child-specific devices

Over the years, tech companies have started to design tablets and devices especially for children. With the iPad Mini, for example, its iOS 9 operating system has a number of parental features like restricting adult content from showing in the web browser, while preventing them from downloading apps without approval.

On the other hand, the Amazon Fire HD 8 slate has been designed for children, coming with a bumper case to prevent the device from damage, and a year-long subscription to Fire For Kids - a channel that has numerous books and TV shows for children.

Parental control software

On the majority of devices and computers, adults are able to set parental controls so that their child only has access to age-appropriate content. Most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) provide their customers with free controls that can be set at any time.

Alternatively, it's possible to buy or download parental control software, which is widely available in many different forms and prices online. Software like this will allow you to filter inappropriate content like pornography and violent material, so there is less chance of them being exposed to it. If you have more than one child but share a family computer or device, you will be able to set up various profiles based on your child's age and what you feel is appropriate for them to see.

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