Technology is a given in today’s world. Without question, personal use of technology will only increase, as the world embraces smart homes, smart cars, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence.
Each of these things improves our ability to use our capacity as humans. Researchers like American futurist Ray Kurzweil are doing their best to ensure that these are brought to us sooner rather than later. At the same time, others concerned with our “humanness” are working to ensure that we retain it, by prioritising real human relationships and interactions. This understanding can be enforced at home.
The late Steve Jobs, American technology entrepreneur (and CEO of Apple), was also a parent of four children. Interestingly, Steve and his wife minimised access to technology, in favour of real interaction. In an interview with The New York Times in 2014, Steve commented on his children and the new iPad: “They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”
Instead, Steve would discuss books and history with them during dinner, taking the time to foster real relationships. Devices were not welcome at the dinner table.
Plentiful research exists about children being addicted to screens, investing significant time every week staring at smart phones, tablets, computers, and televisions. However, that screen time can be used constructively.
Even though technology is increasing at an exponential rate (and it wouldn’t be useful listing current tech as we advance so quickly!) here are some general practical applications.
— Excerpt from Bright, (pp. 208-209).
Be safe when receiving data
Filter incoming data including ads. Free services like AdGuardDNS provide safe incoming data, as well as blocking ads (ads can account for several GB of data per month, and they are also invasive to children’s mental health). Implement something like this free DNS server at your router only, or at each device (wireless only, not 3G/4G).
DNS settings for an iPad with both ad blocking and family protection are…
1. Settings > Wi-Fi > [router name] > [click the i icon] > DNS
2. 184.108.40.206, 220.127.116.11
Turn on restrictions. The iOS interface is outlined here:
Be safe when sending data
Cover your device cameras. Both front-facing and rear-facing cameras on iPads and tablets should be covered with a small square of electrical tape. Test this by trying to use the camera, and ensure there is a black screen.
Teach your child to never give out personal details in forms. This might be limited to first name only, for example. Certainly do not give out address, phone number, and other identifiable information.
Allows use of only one app, with time limits. Disables all hardware buttons (cannot turn iPad off to disable).
Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access
Read more about Guided Access on iPad…
Track your device
Track your device. Use inbuilt services like Apple’s ‘Find my iPhone’, or consider more robust free services like ManageEngine MDM.
Search for high-ability children
Kiddle: A custom, visual search engine (powered by Google Safe Search but not affiliated with Google Inc.) appropriate for all children. Blacklists many words, and “curates” all results (that is, all results in the top 7 have been approved by an adult editor, then subsequent results are “safe search” appropriate).
Applications for high-ability children
Adapted Mind Maths and Reading: Popular maths and reading “gamification”
Wikipedia for Kids: safe search of Wikipedia (simple)