Some kids are online before they’re born thanks to parents who set up premature Facebook pages and Twitter accounts for them. But once your kids are actually at a keyboard, it’s natural to want to shield them from sites that school kids faster than playground bullies or those with hidden predators. There’s also the worry that the time in front of the screen would be better spent playing outside or reading a book.
These concerns are valid, but with parental supervision at very young ages and guidance later on, you can keep your kids safe online. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time at all for children under two, and one to two hours a day for those older.
So which sites should kids visit during their allotted time? Young ones will undoubtedly race to seek out their pals from that other screen—the television—or get right to gaming. Their choices might make you cringe but we’ve found eight sites where kids can catch up with favorite characters, play a few games, and expand their horizons while they’re at it.
There’s plenty to keep you entertained as you play along with your kids, too. If you’re nostalgic for your own younger days spent reading Dr. Seuss or you’ve read Harry Potter as an adult, spend time with your tot in online worlds carefully crafted to recast those pages for a new audience. Amateur archaeologists and anthropologists alike will enjoy digging through the American Museum of Natural History’s site where you can go on an Incan investigation and learn how to keep a field journal. Art aficionados of all ages will want to try their hand at altering masterpieces and creating their own on the National Gallery of Art’s site for kids.
Whatever a kid’s (or your) interest, these eight great sites are sure to keep them playing it safe.