Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Controlling technology so it doesn't control you...

I'm usually quite a low-tech person...

I mean, unless it's going to wash and fold laundry while I do school with the kids, I'm probably not interested. (If you have a gizmo like that, please send me a message...)

But a few weeks ago, my husband got us an ipad...
image courtesy Salvatore Vuono
...and I'm sort of in love...

It's a great little device, with hundreds (thousands?) of FREE apps that can do anything from help teach Little One her ABCs, to tell us what star we're looking at in the night sky. (The latter is our family favorite app!!)

In many ways, I think it is a wonderful tool IF we know how to keep control of that slick little device.

1. In "Settings" you can choose "Restrictions" for many different aspects of your ipad. For example, you can prevent the download of songs with explicit lyrics or control the ratings of movies and TV shows. You can also choose what your kids can access or prevent them from downloading apps all together.

2. Preview each and every app and game your children want to download to the device. 
My kids downloaded a seemingly benign drawing app. Little One was happily using it with her siblings when I heard a lot of giggling and a "Mom's not going to like this!" Being the astute mother that I am, I recognized signs of trouble. The drawing app contained a "sticker" of a pile of poop (I'm not kidding) complete with bathroom noises to illustrate its placement...It was summarily deleted. Lesson learned.

3. Set a password to access the device itself.
If you have tied your personal email and/or facebook accounts to the device, someone could have access to a whole lot of personal information if the ipad was ever lost or stolen. There is even a setting that will wipe the whole thing clean if the wrong password is entered 10 times...

4. The ipad is a tool, not a substitute for hard work.
Yes, you can download an app for Spanish vocabulary or Multiplication facts, but the ipad will not help mastery of these concepts if your student isn't willing to do some hard work on their own!

Remember, this cute little device should be firmly controlled so it doesn't end up controlling you!


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