Today’s children start using gadgets and surfing the Internet at a very young age. Increasingly, people think the Internet can be quite useful for children’s education, and potential harm can be minimized with help of specific software and the right education.
And so a “kids’ Internet” starts to emerge. By “kid’s Internet,” we mean Web pages intended for children: kids’ social networks, gaming and educational websites for kids, and even online stores for kids. We created a list of websites designed specifically for children. It is available here. However, different sets of websites are appropriate for different age groups. The following show our general criteria for judging what is appropriate at various stages of development:
0 – 4 years old
We think Internet surfing is not for kids of this age. They are interested in games, age-appropriate audiobooks, cartoons, and interactive books. None of these require a child to have Internet access — parents can download and install the items they consider appropriate.
Parents of kids under 4 might be interested in websites containing coloring books that can be downloaded and printed out, for example. Those are numerous and easy to find on the Internet.
4 – 6 years old
Kindergarteners start to explore the world of online entertainment. They may be interested in gaming websites, websites containing interactive coloring books, kids’ audiobooks and cartoons. Sounds like the same kinds of resources you used before, doesn’t it? The big difference is that 4- to 6-year-olds want to explore these sites on their own.
Kids’ websites designed for this group are likely the most numerous.
6 – 11 years old
On the one hand, young schoolchildren are still interested in some of the same websites as the younger group. But on the other hand, their interests are becoming much more varied, and they start to use the Internet for education as well.
You’ll have no trouble finding entertaining websites for this age range. You can start with some of the same websites you used before, adding new ones as children grow and expand their interests. As for interesting resources for education, it varies: In some countries, they are quite easy to find; in others they are more rare.
11 – 16 years old
At this stage, children are primarily interested in communication — and independence. Keeping them within the boundaries of the “kids’ Internet” becomes increasingly challenging; their demands exceed the offerings of kids’ websites.
We recommend gradually introducing your child to the “grown-up” Internet. Stay involved and also apply age-appropriate settings in your parental control solution to restrict access to inappropriate websites.