New technologies are part of our life and make our daily tasks easier: checking the traffic, the weather, looking at our agenda or shopping. Precisely, online shopping is, in this age of digitalisation, one of the main activities that we do through our mobile and digital devices. In fact, according to the data collected in the last report of the Economic Social Council, almost a third of the Spanish population are already doing their shopping online. Spain also ranks fourth in the European Union in electronic commerce and represents 11% of total purchases, according to the data also provided by the E-shopper barometer study conducted by DPD Group and Seur.
However, to the ease provided by this activity, such as avoiding travel, the immediacy of the transaction and delivery, we now add the problem of this purchase being made accidentally by minors under our care or our children. These too are inevitably part of a digitalized society, so they are used to contact with these devices. But we don’t have to prohibit their relationship with the technology for this reason; on the contrary, as responsible parents or guardians we must provide a healthy education in the use of new technologies and warn them that these small accidents can send us an excessive bill at the end of the month.
All experts in digitalization agree that prohibiting the use of new technologies to the new generations is counterproductive and also unnatural in the society in which we live. Therefore, a good way to assist our children is to establish a common space, with a limited schedule and always accompanying our children while they use the applications on our smartphones, tablets or when browsing the Internet.
Technology as an ally
In addition to educational methods, the technology itself provides the key to safe browsing and avoiding unwanted oversights, such as those discussed below:
One of these control measures are the so-called browser filters, a fantastic tool to protect children up to 10 years old. With these browsers designed for the little ones we can have a 100% secure environment with contents and environments adapted to the child’s age with games, videos and educational activities. The main advantage of these tools is that they give access only to sites on a whitelist with appropriate topics adapted to their learning needs. One of the most popular is Zoodles, of which there is a free option and another premium version for €7 a month, which includes children’s stories, parental control and elimination of advertising, erasing the possibility of making tempting purchases.
Parental control programs
Parental control programs are also another good option. With them we protect minors from accessing inappropriate content or making a purchase in places where this is relatively easy. Through a configuration in the Windows or Apple systems we can create a specific account for the child where we can choose the time of use, block applications and games to establish those pages that we consider appropriate for them and make them accessible. In this case, Qustodio is one of the most popular parental control programs because it is compatible with multiple operating systems, it can be installed both on computers and phones and is free, although it has a paying premium version with more protection functions.
Specific browsers for children
There are other effective measures for the protection of minors when it comes to using the Internet and these are child search engines. So, although we configure Google with the parental control programs it has by default, we can choose other search engines such as Kiddle, Bunis or Child browser. What makes these tools special is that they all use Google as a search engine, but they make a powerful filtering of all those inappropriate contents for the little ones.
Means of control of purchases in other devices
In the case of mobile devices, such as smartphones, secure environments can also be created that allow you to choose those applications appropriate for the child. This is the case of Kids Place or Kido’z which, among other measures, block incoming calls, wireless connections such as public Wi-Fi, and prevent our little ones from downloading apps and making purchases. Kids Place is available free in the Play Store while Kido’z can be used free for a week, but then comes with a change of under €5 per month.
However, to achieve greater security and protection for our children, both Windows and Apple have the option of disabling the purchase option for specific applications, as well as passwords in the settings section, in the case of iOS, and restrictions in the case of Android. In this way, we can protect our bank account from involuntary purchases. But if we have not set our systems on smartphones and tablets on time, and the purchase has already been made, both have 15-day refund policies for Apple Store and a shorter period for Play Store.
Control on the Social Networks
These purchases, however, do not always occur through the actual shopping apps of the operating systems of our smartphones or tablets. Social networks have little by little been adding to the benefits of online shopping by allowing users to acquire all kinds of products and services.
This is the case of Facebook which, while present on our computer, also travels with us on our mobile devices; hence it is also essential to configure it to avoid any accidental purchase by children. Now, if the error has already occurred, Facebook already includes a money back policy whenever we claim that the purchase was made by a minor without authorisation.
So, the technology is there to help us and can do so by facilitating the protection of our children and giving adults peace of mind by configuring passwords and security codes. In this way, in addition to creating safer environments in our mobile devices to avoid accidental purchases by children, both parties benefit from the good times and the facilities that new technologies provide in our daily tasks.