On our way home from a recent family vacation, my two year old grew understandably anxious and uncooperative while waiting for a flight in an airport terminal. So I handed over my iPhone, hoping to distract her. Within seconds, she had launched the photo application and begun scrolling through the videos of our trip. She’d watch a video, giggle a little, and then scroll to the next. This went on for about ten minutes.

During this time, a small crowed gathered near my kid. I realized that they were marveling at my daughter’s ability to work an iPhone like an adult. But while she may be pretty smart, it was Steve Jobs’ brilliance that created this magical device that passes both the grandmother and toddler tests.

Parents everywhere are equipping their families with digital devices for numerous reasons. There are many advantages and some disadvantages to this practice. Most, but not all, of the applications available on the iPhone and iPad are more or less harmless. The web as whole, though, is fraught with content a child should not be exposed to. The following are helpful tips to address these concerns:

1. Engage in ongoing dialog. Become as savvy about these devices as your child may be, and spend at least as much time using them as they do, if not more. Set firm boundaries regarding what is and is not permitted.

2. Enable restrictions. Go to Settings > General > Restrictions and apply a passcode to any applications your kids shouldn’t be using. Children shouldn’t be exploring the Internet via Safari or YouTube on their own. Lock down the App store, too, otherwise this could become costly.

3. Set appropriate times. We learned the hard way that any digital activities in the early morning can make it difficult to get them ready for school. The same goes for right before dinner, homework, or bed. It’s tough to peel a kid away and readjust their senses to their real world responsibilities.

4. Set time limits. Addiction to gaming and virtual worlds is a real thing. Allowing a child unlimited access to television is bad enough. Allowing a child unlimited access to the digital world could cause behavior issues. We don’t allow any more than 15 or 20 minutes per hour on any game, and no more than 45 minutes in a day. Usually, they don’t want to spend more time than that, because they have so many other fun activities.

For more tips on protecting your kids online, visit JustAskGemalto.com.

Robert Siciliano, personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto. Disclosures

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