At one point in time, your children will have access to a mobile phone or own one themselves. Access to a mobile phone can mean a lot of things; connect with their friends outside of school, play fun and educational games, use the internet to conduct research, and much more. However, there is a dark side of the web that parents and children alike need to be attuned to, to ensure everyone is safe from its potentially harmful effects. Unfortunately, the risks that come with using a mobile device are quite high and are often hard to spot as they are disguised in innocent websites and games.
Here are some top tips for keeping mobiles safe for kids.
#1 Educate yourself
You should first educate yourself on internet safety, and the kind of issues that may arise, for example, use of gambling sites, graphic adult content, cyberbullies, cyber predators, games that take money, online scams, viruses, and malware. Once you have increased your awareness, you will be much more alert to issues, can spot the signs, and take the relevant and appropriate safety measures to protect your children online. Knowledge can also be key in helping other parents do the same.
Cyberbullying in particular is much more likely when a smartphone is involved. No longer are the days where bullying is left at the school dates, now with social media networks, chatrooms, text messages, emails, gaming platforms, etc., children are much more vulnerable to online bullying. With increased awareness of this, as well as knowledge around what signs to spot in your children (avoiding school, seeming upset or not themselves, seeming on edge when notifications go off on their device, and generally withdrawn and unhappy) you know you can take proactive steps to help.
#2 Educate your children
This can often be difficult, as mobile phones are something that children tend to want to fit in with their friends and find it difficult to see the danger that parents can see. While it might take some time, and be an intimidating conversation to have, it is important to keep your children safe online by talking to them.
Help them to understand the dangers of being online, what to look out for, and to ensure they do not give out personal or sensitive information about their age, location, photos, bank details, home address, etc.
Take an interest in how your child uses their phone, what social networks they have made an account for, how much time they spend on them, etc. Most of the time, children just want to play games, connect with their friends, use the iphone photo transfer to send images to their friends, and listen to music. This can help you adjust your conversations with them accordingly.
#3 Set up parental controls
Parental controls are much easier to use nowadays and are accessible on almost all modern devices, whether it is a mobile, or perhaps an iPad your child is using. Parental controls allow you to add access restrictions to the device, which determine which applications and websites your children can access, how much, if any, can be spent on the device within the application store, and time limits.
Time limits are particularly helpful as you can monitor how much time your children are spending on the device, while also adding time restrictions, to certain times of day, or for a specified number of hours per day.
Parental controls are a great way to keep your children safe. If the device does not have parental controls or enough controls for your liking, there are many applications that you can download onto the device to set up the same. For example, some of the most popular parental applications are:
- Google Family Link
- Norton Family Premier
- ESET Parental Control
All of the applications are easy to download and use. Make sure you conduct research and find an application that you can trust, before downloading it onto any device.
#4 Purchase a child-friendly device
There are many alternatives to a mobile phone or iPad if your child is very young or you are not ready to purchase a device for them yet. Many parents also opt for an alternative to test the behavior of their children first, before upgrading to a mobile device.
Alternative devices are specifically built for children in mind, which means there are special controls, and many fun games, social networks, and special features that they can enjoy. For example, Monqi is a unique device that has its app store called Jungle store, which does not have advertisements or in-application purchase options, and offers special parental controls to monitor activities. There is a range of phones and tablets on the market that cater to children and keep them safe.
Mobile phones are a great way for children to stay connected and play games, and with the right safety measures in place, can remain a pleasant experience.