With tech gadgets being released at a rapid pace, your phone, laptop or tablet is outdated the minute you walk out the door. At some point, most of us upgrade and it’s usually our smartphones. I finally broke down 4 months ago and upgraded my iPhone 3 for the iPhone 4s.

Since my iPhone 3 still worked, I decided to make it “special toy” for my toddler when we go out to eat at restaurants. I’ll admit, for the primary purpose for us being able to eat. If you are a parent that can eat and have a 2 year old who sits quietly next to you, I applaud your parenting skills. However, if my situation resonates with you, then you may appreciate these tips.

According to a PBS KIDS survey, about 25% of parents with children between 2 and 10 years old will find a second life for their personal tech devices by handing them down to their kids. Yet, with multi-tablet and multi-smartphone families becoming the norm, here are some ideas from PBS KIDS (and me) to keep kids safe when using these ‘pass-downed devices’.

Sweep it: All devices should be cleaned of any content including personal files, credit card information, etc. before handing down to kids. Parents should swipe all their browser “cookies” and perform an application sweep.

Secure it: There are parental controls on most tech devices that can turn certain features on and off. Settings on the iPhone, for example, that can be restricted include explicit song titles, Internet browser, YouTube, iTunes and the camera.

Set limits: As with any new toy, parents should set expectations and limitations with their kids when the device is handed down, and should encourage other forms of learning and play beyond the screen. Like I mentioned above, we only use it for “special” events.

Set age-appropriate apps: A good app is the perfect combination of education and entertainment, and should be appropriate for your child’s age and stage of development. Avoid apps that try to sell: Apps labeled “lite” or “free” often attempt to make money by trying to sell while a child is playing a game, or link to another related app that requires payment to download. For little kids, that can be frustrating. At a minimum, require a password to download items so you don’t get a large credit card bill.

Set it in a protective case: Adults are known for dropping their electronic devices. Kids more so. So make sure to buy a great case that can resist scratches and provide great impact protection.

All in all, for kids today, they have never lived in a world without voicemail, internet or cell phones, and the technology world is going to be entrenched in their future. So early use can be beneficial in learning. However, everything in moderation and with the above ‘safety tips’ in mind.

Any other ideas to share?

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