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Technology Can Help Kids Learn All Summer Long

School might be out for summer, but that doesn’t mean kids can’t keep learning while having fun.

Today is National Summer Learning Day – a reminder for adults and students how important it is to discover, stay safe and remain active even when school is not in session. According to the National Summer Learning Association, students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of vacation than they do on the same tests at the start of summer.

With more e-books now available, tablets and e-readers are a great way to keep kids busy learning all summer long. Whether it’s reading, math, or science, they can play around with their favorite subjects from a single device.

Here are a few of Best Buy’s favorite gadgets to give that brain a fun workout this summer:

  • Microsoft Surface 3 – Whether it’s browsing the web, creating cartoons in a doodle app or writing up a short story, this tablet has the power of a laptop and really can do it all.
  • Amazon Fire HD Kid’s Tablet – Keeping little ones entertained is easy with access to millions of their favorite books, songs and TV shows. Did we mention it has easy-to-use parental controls, so you can know exactly what they are or aren’t watching?
  • LeapTV Video Gaming System – This device works with more than 100 games that teach kids skills such as reading, math, science and problem solving
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 – The kids can play on their favorite apps, checkout a Youtube video for their new DIY project, surf the net, sharpen photography skills and more with this lightweight tablet.

But remember that technology is a tool that must be used wisely, and our Blue Shirts have five pointers for online safety:

  1. 1. Set guidelines for computer usage
    Create a set of guidelines about when and how long your children can use the computer. Be clear about what they can and cannot do online. Discuss things like instant messaging, chat rooms, blogs, and social networking sites.
  2. 2. Get smart on parental controls
    Learn about the different parental control tools, protective software, and controlled access options that are available, and decide which, if any, are best for your needs. OpenDNS offers free parental control software; SafeEyes and NetNanny also have software.
  3. 3. Monitor access to social networks
    When your children are posting on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, only allow them to share personal information that you are comfortable having in the public domain. Remember to restrict access to their pages and/or profile by adjusting the account’s security settings whenever possible.
  4. 4. Use strong passwords
    Creating a strong password and changing it regularly is perhaps the easiest way to protect your child’s online identity and personal information. Use a combination of numbers, letters and special characters (when allowed) to create the password. The stronger the password is, the harder it will be for others to guess what it is. Use different passwords for each site or service.
  5. 5. Provide guidance on email communication
    Tell your children not to respond if they receive offensive or dangerous e-mail, chat requests, or other communications, and to get out of a website that makes them uncomfortable. Also tell them to show you anything they receive that makes them uncomfortable. Assuring them that you won’t be angry with them and that they are not to blame can help you to develop a trusting, open relationship.