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A 2019 Statista report says 93% of UK children already own tablets, smartphones or computers for their personal use. Undoubtedly, these gadgets were bought by their parents, family friends or other relatives. These gadgets come with a lot of responsibility on both sides. Parents and children are required to observe basic rules and directions to ensure that these personal devices are used appropriately. Therefore, if you are contemplating getting your child their first computer, here are some things you can consider first.
Set time limits
Setting time limits generally refer to the number of hours your child can use their computer. Apart from the hours, it is vital to set limits for the times of the day to access these devices. Over the years, research has proven that too many UK kids are abusing screen time, and unfortunately, parents are aware of it. For many households, the ownership of a computer may be to keep kids occupied at home while parents attend to other responsibilities at home or in the office.
However, too much screen time can be detrimental to your child’s eyesight. In other words, exposure to blue lights from computer screens can cause visual fatigue and pressure on the retina. To avoid these health effects, you can purchase a Blue Light filter to protect their young eyes. The best decision, though, is to set screen limits and to ensure that your restrictions are well communicated. Too much screen time also has its effects on cognitive development and their social life.
Choose an operating system compatible with the device
Operating Systems (OS) are software that runs on computers. Without it, most computers (if not all) cannot run efficiently or operate basic functions. There are different types of OS, and it’s necessary to learn a little about them. After all, you will be providing direct oversight responsibility for your child’s computer use. Therefore, knowing about operating systems is important. Windows, Apple, etc., have a different OS that helps differentiate their brand. However, the most popular operating system is Windows.
When you purchase your child’s computer, you will notice that the OS is already pre-installed. You may need to downgrade the OS to a previous version in some circumstances. If you bought a Mac, you would find it practical to learn how to downgrade macOS. If you find this too cumbersome, you have the option to seek an IT professional to do this. The overall objective of downgrading is to enable certain computer programmes or apps to run efficiently on the computer. The good news here is most computer brands, and models support at least two operating systems. This way, you can replace one OS with the other.
Set parental controls
As long as your child is below age 18, you have the utmost duty to set parental controls on the new device. The purpose of these restrictions is to prevent the child from accessing sites that may show content that is too adult or harmful for them. Secondly, setting parental controls allows adults to monitor their kids’ online activities. This is equal to snooping on children’s online activities for some people, but on the contrary, this has nothing to do with snooping. Instead, it is a precautionary measure to protect your minor’s innocence, shield them from predators, and safeguard the entire family.
Depending on the brand or computer model, you will find the parental settings in the control panel. You can find apps under parental control for more modern computers that allow you to extend restrictions to online games, music, podcasts, and audiobooks. More importantly, before exiting the parental control page, you will be asked to set a unique PIN to prevent your child from reversing the restrictions made. If you think you will forget this identification number, it is recommended to save the password in a secure place that your children cannot access. If it helps, you can send the PIN as an email to yourself.
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Be mindful of computer viruses
Computers have a reputation for getting hacked or exposed to viruses and malware. Even with your parental controls in place, what seems like a harmless child-friendly site can harbour viruses that infiltrate your child’s computer. This is why installing antivirus software on the device is vital to provide enhanced protection. You may want to teach your child how to use their computer wisely and with caution at this stage. There are plenty of free anti-virus packages out there or you may choose to purchase a multidevice one so one account will monitor every device in the family.
Having a computer opens up a world of information to help your kids learn. However, these devices come with increased responsibility for parents and children, so be aware of this before you purchase.