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Internet Safety Series – The Smartphone

by Rebecca Moonen

Today is National Internet Safety Day and we’d like to celebrate by doing what we do best and sharing some tips on keeping you safe online. For today we’d like to draw your attention to one of the latest emerging trends among children and teens – the Smartphone.

Giving a child a mobile phone can be a strong safety measure. After all, you can contact them whenever necessary (providing the phone is on and they answer it) and they can contact you. On the downside it also opens up a world of concerns.
While children are learning to use these Smartphones from as young as toddlers, a good time to surprise your young one with their first mobile phone is when they might be travelling alone to and from school, partaking in after school sports or may need to contact you at the last minute when plans change. Once they do receive their first device there are a few measures you can put in place for some peace of mind.

Bluetooth?

Most phones will have their Bluetooth already enabled meaning a child’s mobile phone is connected to any other Bluetooth-enable phone in the vicinity. If active, your child could be open to receiving unwanted content from surrounding devices or have the privacy of their own personal content compromised. Simply switch it off in the settings menu and the problem is solved.

Registered for an adult?
If a phone is registered to a child user it will be preset to not allow access to anything rated for 18+. If this hasn’t been preset it is worth contacting your mobile phone operator to put this in place or your child could find themselves stumbling across websites with adult content.

Location Services switched off?
Location Services apps effectively allow anyone using social networking devices like Facebook to know exactly where you are at any given point. This is particularly dangerous when taking a photograph and posting immediately as the phone will also attach the exact location to the photo online. This leaves a child open to stalkers who may suddenly have access to the child’s home address and regular haunts. This can also be changed in the general settings of the phone.

Set passwords?
Children and teens end up with a lot of personal stuff stored on their phones. Just as you wouldn’t leave your laptop without a lock on it, you shouldn’t leave your child’s phone unprotected.

Checked school policy?
It always pays to check your child’s school for information on their mobile phone policy. Are they allowed in class? Are photos able to be taken? Then ask yourself if this could put your child in danger should any photos be posted online.

Checked your bill?
Downloading ringtones, games videos and special features are all charged to your account. This can be an easy way to monitor what they might be viewing on their phones. It also wouldn’t hurt to teach them to limit this behavior or you might end up with some unexpected bills at the end of the month.

A Smartphone can be the best thing you’ve ever given your child, but a little caution always goes a long way. Smartphone safely guys!

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