Category: Parenting

Internet Safety Checklist for Preschoolers

online safety for children

Here’s What Parents Should Teach Their Little Ones… Almost a decade ago, parents and caregivers didn’t have to worry about teaching their preschool aged children’s online safety. It’s the opposite today. Children are now being raised in the digital age.

Today, kids grow up learning how to use technology just like learning how to speak or walk. In fact, if technology isn’t a part of their lives, they would be unusual in society.

Touchscreen technologies have made the internet far more accessible than it used to be. It’s quicker and easier to use on a tablet or an iPad since you don’t need a mouse and a keyboard to navigate.

Some online safety risks for preschoolers

Not all parents believe there is a need to navigate and control how their 4 to 5 years old kids use the internet. Because what can go wrong. They are not using social media and they are barely spelling anything right.

It’s true, preschoolers don’t usually get exposed to as many risks as older children since they are usually using the internet under the supervision of an adult. However, that doesn’t mean parents can excuse themselves from taking certain practical internet safety precautions. Even if your preschooler goes online to play games or watch videos, they are still at the risk of accessing inappropriate content.

Raising Children Au says, there are three kinds of internet safety risk for preschoolers – content, contact and conduct.

  1. Content: This includes the content that children might find upsetting, uncomfortable, or disgusting. Examples are images of animal cruelty, violence, pornography or videos that are meant for older children.
  2. Contact: Children might come in contact with people they don’t know. For instance, they might end up on a communication app like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp and send some personal photo or video to one of your contacts or even a stranger (on Facebook).
  3. Conduct: This risk includes children acting in a way that might hurt others. For instance, they might end up deleting some important file or accidentally make in-app purchases.

Children know more than we think!

If you think your preschooler isn’t smart enough to understand what the internet is, read the results of this study where 70, four-year-old children were asked what they know about the internet. 40 percent of the children in the study were able to describe what the internet is. Their understanding of the internet was associated with the experiences of going online and using technology with their family. They defined the internet as something they use to play games; something that mommy uses for work or big sister uses for sending emails and more.

Internet safety checklist to follow

Before children make up their own meaning about the internet, why not tell them what the internet is? Experts say you can start by teaching them that the internet is a net of technology we used to “talk” to each other. Once they understand that then we can move towards teaching them how to protect themselves online.

Here is a checklist that can help parents teach their little ones about internet safety:

  • Explore the internet together: Start by exploring the internet together with your children. They will learn when you are exploring with them. Show them interesting websites, ask them to show you how to play their favorite game, or you can even simply talk about the video they were watching.
  • Be involved: Encourage your children to use devices in the lounge or the kitchen. This will let you keep a close eye on how they are using the internet and monitor what they are watching. Don’t forget to be involved in their enjoyment.
  • Use passwords: You must know when your child is accessing the internet and a smart way to do that is to set passwords on all internet-enabled devices. Make sure these devices are out of your child’s reach. They will have to go through the process of asking permission to access the device and making you put the password so that they can play a game or listen to nursery rhymes. P.S. Don’t share passwords with them.
  • Activate safe search settings: Your toddler will probably use Google and YouTube to do their thing on the internet. Enable safe search settings on both of them. This allows you to apply restrictions on inappropriate search results.
  • Select the right content: Help them choose safe, educational, and fun games or videos. Research games or shows that would be appropriate for your child. You must be confident about the content your child is watching because they will be learning a lot from it.
  • Teach them good and bad: It’s totally okay to talk to your child about good and bad content on the internet. Encourage them to come to you if they see something scary or upsetting. Here is how you can start the conversation: “Some videos on the internet can be scary. Tell mommy/daddy if you see something that scary or makes you unhappy.”

Put yourself in control

Don’t be afraid to use parental controls. There are plenty of child monitoring apps that allow you to set parental controls to manage and control what content your child sees online.

Lots of parents take refuge in monitoring apps for children. It’s being used for monitoring and supervising online behavior of preschoolers and older kids alike. In short, it puts you in control of the online activities of your child and ensuring their safety by providing online protection of your little ones:

  • Manage Web Browsing: Usually, kids directly go to YouTube or the game that’s installed on their tablet. But some are smart enough to browse through Google, too. Parental controls allows you to check the web browsing history of your child’s tablet from a remote location. This feature is also useful if your child is with the nanny and you are just curious about what they are making your child watch.
  • Set boundaries: It is never too early to set boundaries on how much internet or screen time your child gets access to. Set rules regarding how much time your child spends online. You can set screen-time limitations by locking their digital devices altogether. Practice this when it’s time to eat so that they develop the habit of eating without a screen in front of them or when it’s bedtime so they could sleep without any distraction.
  • Block Apps: If your children share a tablet or phone, the apps that your older kid uses may not be appropriate for your toddler. With parental controls you can block the apps that you find inappropriate for one or both kids and let them spend the right amount of time on the internet, worry-free!

Monitoring apps as the likes of Xnspy are great for working parents who leave their kids and their tablets with babysitters and don’t know how much time they are spending online or what they are doing online.

Other things to teach

You mustn’t forget to teach your child how to protect themselves one. Tell them to:

  • Seek help whenever they see a pop-up in the middle of a game or video
  • Be near an adult whenever they are using a device
  • Only click on the tabs or apps your parent or babysitter has set up for you
  • Don’t share personal information (like photos or videos) with anyone

It makes sense to set boundaries to stay safe from internet dangers.  The internet is a large part of the daily lives of many young ones. They don’t just watch their favorite YouTube clips and play games online but also talk to long-distance relatives over video conferencing. Security and safety begins by teaching kids how to stay safe online from a young age.

Now let’s explore how parents can be involved in making sure their kids are safe at school.

Smart Tech in a Home with Kids

Smart Home Technology Families Kids

Smart technology is becoming the norm rather than the exception, with more and more gadgets helping make our homes more efficient. This technology can help make our lives more convenient, and our kids’ educational experience more enriched.

Smart tech can add an extra measure of safety in our homes, but parents also need to be aware of potential security risks. Here’s an overview of things to consider when adopting smart tech into your home.

1. Teaching smart online behavior is key.

As smart devices are becoming more integrating into your child’s life for entertainment, education and daily living, it’s important to teach them about safe online behavior. Older kids who are on social media should know why privacy settings are important. They should be selective about accepting friend requests and ensure location services are disabled. They also should understand the perennial nature of posting, and how nothing on social media is ever really gone.

Ensure your pre-teens and teens understand the nature of cyberbullying. This includes understanding that photos and situations that are funny to them now, might lose their humor down the line because they can hurt people’s feelings. These posts might come back to haunt them later when they want to join a club, get an after-school job or apply to college.

They also should understand that posting about an event or activity on social media can cause resentment by those who have been deliberately left out, helping them to think critically about what they wish to share publicly.

2. Smart sensors in the home make sense.

A smart home can incorporate many different types of smart sensors. Some are particularly useful for keeping kids safe, especially for curious toddlers who haven’t yet learned about boundaries. Sensors installed in doorways can create greater peace of mind for parents of small explorers. For example, they can send a signal to your phone when a child exits a threshold, or if an intruder enters one.

Sensors can connect to a video camera so you can check your phone to see what’s happening. Doorbell cameras are particularly useful for when your kids get older and start inviting the neighborhood over when you’re not home.

Among the various types of sensors a home may have, motion sensors can be set up around danger areas, such as swimming pools or driveways, to provide a notification to you when a child has entered the area unsupervised. Window sensors can not only help save energy but can create an extra measure of safety by notifying you when one is left open or opens unexpectedly, ensuring there are no unexpected escapes or entries.

While every home should be equipped with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, smart versions of these devices can also monitor your home’s air quality, checking for pollen and other particles that can be troublesome for young lungs.

3. Smart light bulbs can improve school performance.

Smart tech in your home can include smart light bulbs, which can help your kids get better grades in school. How? For one, some smart bulbs can adjust their blue light emissions from day to evening, helping your kids be more energized in the mornings and move more easily toward sleep at night.

Blue light, which comes to us naturally through sunlight, can interfere with the sleep hormone melatonin when we get too much blue light artificially. Better sleep equals better performance at school and on tests.

It’s important to recognize that every person’s experience with sleep issues is different.  Managing the challenges can be both frustrating and isolating.  Studies have shown that different colors of light can promote sleep by examining the effects of light and habits that may improve sleep.  Determining which are the worst colors for sleep is also key in helping parents determine which colors are best for their kids.

4. Smart devices can protect infant safety.

Parents of newborns already know the important benefit of baby monitors in keeping an ear on activity in the other room. The frightening worry posed by SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome, has led developers of baby monitors to evolve the product. Some connect to your smartphone or can be sent to a mobile speaker.

Other smart items like onesies, mattresses or socks can measure and monitor your baby’s vital information like heart rate, breathing, movement, pulse oximetry and body position. You will be able to hear sounding alarms or receive notifications to your phone when there’s a problem.

5. Internet-connected smart toys need vetting.

Smart toys with an Internet connection—which can include robot dogs, dinosaurs, cars and other items—should be carefully vetted before purchase or forgone altogether. Many of these toys have cameras and microphones and can gather data during play as well as share your child’s location.

While these toys can provide educational opportunities, the Federal Trade Commission urges parents to carefully collect information on the toy before purchasing. That includes researching what kind of information the toy will collect about your child, learning of there are security issues or safety recalls, and knowing whether there have been security complaints.

Know the features of the toy and when it will be listening in, and whether you have the option to control the information. Smart toys, just like any other smart item in your home, pose a risk of being hacked or their data used in ways you didn’t expect.

Bottom line: Smart technology has great potential to improve safety and enhance kids’ lives when approached carefully and sensibly. Talking with your children and teaching them about the proper use of smart technology will help ensure the best experience for everyone.

By Hilary Thompson

Woodworking Projects and Ideas for Kids

Wood Woking Project for Kids

Encouraging imagination is important for kids’ mental growth, especially nowadays where information and entertainment are spoon-feed over screens. One of the fun ways to put our kids’ imagination into practice is through woodworking projects. It’s a balance between creativity and cognitive skills, plus kids are able to create something unique and personal.

Whether for home schooling or working on group projects in a school classroom, these ideas will challenge kids to stretch their brains as they think about making something original using mostly wooden objects. Kids may also be encouraged to search for wooden objects that could possibly work for their woodworking projects ideas.

Train and Tracks

We know how young kids love to play with trains – and this one is super easy to make. All you need are three wooden boxes, a wooden spool, and six pasta wagon wheels. But before going ahead with the assembly, let your little ones have a little fun with paint and ask them to color the blocks.

Once the blocks are nice and dry, use wood glue to attach the pieces together. Glue on the wooden spool to be the train engines smokestack. For the tracks, popsicle sticks on a piece of cardboard would do the trick!

Personalized Boxes

Adult supervision may still be needed for some easy wood projects for kids, especially those that require power tools.

If your little one wants to create a box for storing crayons, marbles, or any other personal items, he may need your hand in building one.

The box can be any size he wants – wider, taller, smaller, bigger. The lid could be sliding too. Kids would need wood, a pencil, tape measure, sandpaper, hand drill and assorted bits, speed square, and a saw for cutting the wood into the right pieces. If you want it to be simpler, you can also use wood glue to attach the pieces together.

Play Tent

Kids absolutely love the idea of building forts in the backyard. Like many woodworking projects, although larger than the previous ones, this one is a breeze to create. Built in just 10 minutes or less, your kids will be playing with their toys or reading books under the tent in no time!

You’d need four long pieces of wood (about 42” each), a long dowel piece, fabric, and drill. Note that the drill bit should match the dowel size for a secure fit. All it takes is drilling a hole on each end of the wood, inserting the dowel, attaching the fabric, and the tent is complete!

Robot Buddy

It’s more like creating a friend than just a simple wooden toy. For this project, you’d need an assortment of wooden blocks, heavy-duty string, wood glue, drill, and a wood burning pen.

Before you drill in the holes, make sure it’s a perfect match for the string size. The string should fit snugly inside.

Drill one hole in the head block and one in each limb block. The body block needs two holes on the side and two holes on the bottom, one for each hand and foot. Once the holes are ready, fill them with glue and stick in the strings using a nail.

Assembly takes a few minutes as you have to let the glue dry as well. Don’t forget carving the eyes and mouth with the woodburning pen. After that, your kid will now enjoy the companion of his robot buddy.

Benefits of Woodworking For Kids

Woodworking is a great physical activity. It will bring some benefits that go beyond the physical of kids.

  • Develop good skills creativity
  • Help build a positive mentally
  • Teaching patience
  • Help with mature emotional and communication

Kids’ woodworking projects are some exciting projects and easy to do. Also, if you spend time working out with kids on wood projects, they will get develop skills better with time. Eventually, they can do projects without any help.

CyberBullying: A Word for Parents

cyberbullying guide for parents

There was a time when bullying was something we all had to endure in school, on the bus, and hanging out with friends. It was always unpleasant. The next generation, our children, have an even worse type of bullying to deal with… and it’s so much more common than what we suffered!

About CyberBullying

Remember how frustrating it was in school when somebody was upset and reacted passive aggressively, usually by spreading a rumor? How the victim of a bully (maybe it was you, maybe it was one of your friends) would feel singled out, how hard it was to go to school and deal with the drama.

Your children deal with passive aggressive bullying all the time… because the internet brings out the passive aggressive in almost every young person. From shy kids to the straight forward, outspoken kid… cyberbullying can happen by accident. But as you remember about being the victim of a bully… the wounds never heal.

What’s even worse about cyberbullying is this. When a direct conflict among friends is resolved, you can forget and forgive the hurtful things that were said. However, you can never erase them from the internet.

With that in mind, it’s important to be very sensitive when talking about cyberbullying with your child. And yes, if your kid is using the internet than you do need to talk about this!

Teaching Your Child How To Not Be a CyberBully

As mentioned before, the internet brings out certain behaviors in young folk. Of course your child knows not to pick on somebody in person, but do they know not to rant and rave on social media when what they say could unintentionally hurt somebody else?

Watch for passive aggressive behaviors, and teach your children to face their problems (directly) rather than Facebooking them or through any type of social media.

If your child is 13 or younger, you should have their social media log in info, and don’t share the password with your child. This way, you can easily check in on them and you can also protect your child from being the victim of a “hacker” cyberbully by preventing anyone else from finding out how to log into their account.

Cyberbullying is even more common with older teenagers (age 14-18), especially when they have a smartphone that allows them to post on impulse. Teach them to think before they post, and make sure they understand how important it is to never post anything that could hurt somebody else… or could come back to haunt them.

What To Do If Your Child is the Victim of a CyberBully

Be the parent that a child can feel comfortable talking to if they are being harassed or directly attacked online. Be kind and understanding, and be sensitive to their needs. The rest is really up to you, as a parent.

If the harassment is severe enough, you can involve other authorities (the school or the police.) As you may remember, this could backfire on your child so it shouldn’t be your first choice. One needs to evaluate closely determine the immediate and long term effects of the bullying your child is enduring.  If the bullying has started over personal drama, discuss with your child whether or not they should confront the person in real life and come to a resolution. Do not “feed the trolls” or respond to cyberbullying online… bring it back to real world interaction.

To protect your child from becoming the victim of a cyberbully, encourage them to make friends with other children who are kind and respectful. Teach your children that friends who are always “surrounded by drama” can be dangerous… you never know when you’ll get sucked into it!

What can a child or teen do to empower themselves against a cyber bully? Have them read our article on CyberBullying: for Kids and Teens.

Bullying in School and on the Playground

While cyberbullying can be much more invasive by allowing bullies to virtually enter your home and harass your child online, we must not forget about traditional bullying in school hallways, the lunchroom, on the playground.

Whether ‘on’ or offline, parents who know the signs of bullying in their child’s behavior can be proactive no matter what form it takes.

Here are the red flags to look for and what to do with aid your bullied child.


This infographic was created by Kids Car Donations, a local car donation

Safer Search

What does it take to provide a safer web experience for kids? It takes a combination of tools and resources working together in unison: internet filtering, safe and secure browsing, parental control apps, and education. That is our mission at Safe Search Kids as we work to deliver these four cornerstones of online safety to parents, teachers, and students.