Holiday help: Parental control tools for tablets

With tablets showing up on more and more kids’ holiday wish lists (littler and littler kids!), parents will appreciate any help they can get with keep tablet use safe as well as fun. And there’s help over at TechHive, which reports that Amazon Kindle Fire HD, Barnes & Noble Nook HD, and Apple’s iPad, all have some built-in parental controls (e.g., FreeTime on the Kindle Fire and Restrictions on the iPad), but Google’s Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 don’t. For the Nexus tablets, parents might want to look into what’s available in third-party apps. The post mentions Zoodles Kid Mode, Kids Place, or Funamo. So if parental controls are important to you, the device you pick will depend on which type of control is most important to you as a parent – for example, none of the tablets provide Web filtering, but you can completely turn the Web off on the Nook HD and the iPad (in FreeTime on the Kindle, kids don’t have Web access). If controlling screen time is most important, the Kindle’s FreeTime offers pretty solid support in that area, but the Nook will offer more control if the family’s sharing a tablet. Do check out blogger Michelle Mastin’s post for much greater detail and her bottom line.

The most effective “tool,” though, especially when working with littler kids, is watching how they use their tablets every now and then – asking them why they like certain apps and games and maybe trying some of them out. That way, parents gain insights into their children’s interests, as they grow, and can mash up play and experiential learning (here‘s more on that). And in the social media environment we’re all either growing up in or getting used to, it helps to be playful – mess around with new games and social tools and learn as we go just as our kids do – because there are no instruction manuals or tech safeguards for human interaction (thank goodness).

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