E-readers can be great tools for encouraging kids to read. Their portability, privacy, and expansive storage space make them convenient, and their tracking tools and extra features make them lots of fun.
That said, simply handing your child an e-reader and telling them to have fun poses some risks, especially if they’re using one of the newer or tablet-style e-readers — which, while they boast more features, also provide more opportunities for getting into trouble.
Here are a few tips for keeping your child safe when they’re using an e-reader:
Choose Your Device Wisely
If you want your child to be able to do nothing but read on their e-reader without the temptations of games, videos, and websites constantly calling to them, your best bet is to choose an e-reader that isn’t capable of doing those things.
A basic e-reader with an e-ink screen, like the Nook Simple Touch, is built for e-reading almost exclusively. It doesn’t have a Web browser beyond the B&N storefront, so you can be assured your kiddos won’t be messing around on the Internet instead of reading — no fussing with parental controls required. Plus, you’ll save money on an e-reader that doesn’t have all the bells and whistles.
Set Your Parental Controls
Of course, there are plenty of valid reasons for wanting to buy your child an e-reader that does have the bells and whistles. Maybe you’re fine with them browsing the Internet or playing games from time to time, but you still want to make sure they can’t spend all their time playing Angry Birds or stumbling across websites they shouldn’t see.
That’s where parental controls come in.
The newer Nooks are known for their fairly extensive system of parental controls, which allow you to create a separate profile for each of the device’s users. Once you create a profile for your child, you can then set limits on what they can do and which books they can buy on the device.
Kindles also have parental control options that let you limit what your child can do on the device. If you spring for any of the Kindle Fires, you can also download an app called FreeTime, which completely re-skins your tablet to create a child-friendly ecosystem entirely controlled by you. It’s probably the most comprehensive system of parental controls you can find for an e-reader.
Check In With Your Kids
No parental control system or fancy app can replace some good old fashioned parenting. Check in with your kids, ask them what they’re reading, make it fun — you know, that sort of thing.