child with headphones and a tablet

If you have young children and are like many modern parents, you often share your tablet computer, smartphone and other electronic gadgets with your kids. Unfortunately, children don’t always care for pricey items the way their parents do. Here are five smart tips for protecting your electronic investments from child-related mishaps.

1. Turn off buying options. Maybe you’ve heard stories about children using their parents’ accounts to purchase games, tokens and even pretend food for their digital pets. Whether it’s accidental or intentional, your kids could rack up huge bills when they have access to your online accounts.

The solution is simple: Turn off in-app purchases. While it might be a slight inconvenience when you actually do want to buy something, it takes only a few seconds to toggle on and off.

You can usually find the option to turn off in-app purchases under your iOS phone or tablet’s “Options” menu. If you have an Android phone, open Google Play and select “Settings.” Then, go to “User Controls” and set a PIN for in-app purchases.

2. Set passwords. Strong passwords do more than just protect your personal information — they can also be used to protect gadgets from unauthorized purchases. Putting passwords on your phone and accounts keeps you in control of what your kids can and can’t download.

3. Use sturdy cases. Personal devices are notoriously delicate, so it’s essential to purchase sturdy cases for your smartphones, e-readers and tablets. The online marketplace has a huge selection — just perform a search for your device and “case” to see what’s available.

4. Download apps. If you use Android phones and tablets, there’s a free app, called Kytephone, which allows parents to track online activity, messaging and other actions; you can also set up timers to limit game-playing time. Also consider installing antivirus options from companies such as Norton or McAfee that deter children from clicking on links that can lead to spyware or phishing scams.

5. Apply screen protectors. The first thing every new device needs is a screen protector to prevent it from getting scratched when children play with it. The protector your device needs depends completely on its make and model, but most electronics stores carry a wide variety of sizes and brands. Some stores even apply the protector for you for a small fee (usually about $5 to $10), if you’re nervous about handling the thin polyester film yourself.

Computers, smartphones and tablets all help your children play, learn and stay occupied. Take time now to put a few safeguards in place so you’ll be able to enjoy your gadgets for a long time to come.

Source: “Nine Ways to Protect Your Electronic Gadgets and Make Them Childproof,” Jacqueline Curtis, (accessed July 10, 2020).
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