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Safe Gift-Giving This Christmas: Technology-Wise

Christmas GiftsThey’re almost here!

Black Friday!


Time to gather the funds and get those gifts for all the kids!

But, you need to be careful

Because technology gifts aren’t always safe right out of the box!

21st Century gifts run the gamut from LEGO® to computers and cell phones.  The higher-tech presents have additional safety considerations, both in terms of personal safety and developmental safety.  Here are some quick and dirty considerations for parents as presents are considered.

  1. iphone_fontviewMake sure the gift is age-appropriate.  Ask yourself: “Does a 12 year-old really need an iPhone that will cost $500+ to replace if lost or broken?  Do they need constant access to the WEB and to chatting?”  What are the child’s true needs versus their WANTS?
    Remember, the average child, 10 and up, would LOVE to get a MUSTANG for Christmas, but it is not appropriate.
  2. What are the gift’s networking/Internet capabilities?  If the device can access the Internet, what parental controls are available (if any) and do they actually do all the things you need them to do to protect a child online?  For example, a game may say it has parental controls, but is that for games (based  on the ESRB game ratings) or does it include filtering out porn sites?
  3. gamingWHERE will the gift be used, and do there need to be rules restricting that?  It may be fine to have a PS3 (which can browse the web) set up in the living room, but should a child have one upstairs in their bedroom, or in a den that does not have much traffic?  Will children be able to take phones to their rooms at night? If so, they WILL be texting late on school nights!  TRUST ME!
  4. Purchasing a new computer?  Make sure to include $$$ for new, updated anti-virus and parentalLaptop w caution tape Medium control software!  Also, decide and discuss, ahead of time, the rules and guidelines for the  computer. These should include:When the computer can be used?

    How long each day/week can the computer/Internet be used?
    What are acceptable/unacceptable uses of the computer/Internet?
    What are the procedures for varying from the rules when there is reason (say, school projects)?
    What are the penalties?
  5. If giving games/DVDs, what are the ratings and why were they given those ratings?  Are they games/DVDs then appropriate for your children?
  6. Kin1If a gift will have, or require, access to an online store (such as for an iPod, Kindle, etc.), check first to see if the store has parental controls (as does the iTunes store).  These should provide parents with control over the content their children download. (See note, below.)
  7. If a child will want to get stuff online (such as at the iTune Store) do NOT input a credit card number.  These stores have security issues from time to time.  Instead, provide the child with gift cards that they can use to “load up” their account.  This controls their spending and also protects your bank account.
  8. Finally, consider if an extended service plan (to include accidental damage!) is wise given the age/maturity/accident-prone-ness of the child.

L1Finally, remember that gifts do NOT have to be high-tech!  There is nothing wrong with the following gifts:

  • Books (old school kind, not electronic)
  • Creative toys such as LEGO®, K’NEX®, MARBLE RUN®, LINCOLN LOGS®, electric trains, and more.
  • Educational toys such as: Telescopes, Microscope, Electronics Toys, and sets such as LEGO’s MINDSTORMS (robotics and programing), TECHNICS, and DESIGNbyME products.)
  • Sports toys.
  • Clothing

These are just a few tips and ideas.

Have a wonderful, and safe, Christmas Season!

NOTE: Instructions on locking down iTunes may be found in
Chapter 16 of the SEX, KIDS, & THE INTERNET Workbook.

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