The use of smartphones has gradually become a need for everyone in society, including children. About 90% of children in the UK aged between 12 and 15 years use mobile phones regularly, even in school. However, this isn’t much of a surprise due to the digital age we currently live in. Mobile phones provide numerous benefits for children, such as keeping them in constant touch with their friends and family, entertaining them, and making their studies and research work less complicated. However, using a smartphone does come with its own set of risks.
Fortunately, there are ways available to safeguard your child and keep a monitoring eye on their mobile phone use. So, does your child spend loads of time behind their mobile phone? Do you want to ensure that they use their devices safely? Then here are some phone safety tips you should know.
Know the dangers of using mobile phones
First of all, you need to know what risks or dangers your child may be exposed to through their regular use of mobile phones. These include sexting, cyberbullying, making in-app purchases without understanding the terms, sharing personal information, gaining access to inappropriate and dangerous content, and using the phone for the wrong reasons. The wrong reasons here could mean playing games on the phone or browsing social media instead of using it for studies. Here are some alarming realities you should know about how children use mobile phones:
- 4% of children visit gambling sites
- 11% of them look for websites that allow them to cheat on schoolwork
- 17% of children now browse free pornographic websites
- 21% of them visit online platforms that make it possible for them to communicate with strangers
- 29% of children use the internet in ways that their parents may disapprove
As a parent, you need to ensure that you keep your child protected from these dangers as much as possible.
Have those hard conversations
After knowing about the risk factors and dangers involved, it is time to have that complicated conversation with your child. One purpose of this conversion is to ensure that your child is on the same page with you regarding the risks of using the mobile phone. Such a discussion is also helpful as it offers an opportunity to lay down the dos and don’ts of using their smartphone and the consequences they can expect to face if they fail to go by the rules you put in place.
Don’t expect your child to be excited about having this conversation, but you should let them know you’re doing it for their safety.
Monitor how your children use their phones
Some parents might consider this pretty a bit tricky, but it is doable. First, ensure that you know the passwords or security lock codes they use on their phones. Doing this will give you access to their phone activities. Another option is to create a dual password, making it possible to install parental restrictions on androids and iPhones and even monitor the phone’s location. You can also find some parental control apps to download on the phone’s app store.
You can also make it clear that you can have access to their phones whenever you need to. Alternatively, you can also look for a cell phone hacker for hire to help ensure that you keep track of your child’s activities while maintaining 100% confidentiality.
If you feel your child isn’t old enough to start browsing websites unaccompanied, then it’s best to choose a cell phone for them that only allows talk and text. Even if you opt for a smartphone, then data services should only come in when you feel your child is ready for the responsibilities that come with internet access.
Some stats show that a child can spend over 30 hours a week using their cell phones. And although it might not sound like much, exposure to various online simulations for this long can quickly add up for your child’s brain. When deciding what the dos and don’ts are, one important thing you can consider is limiting phone usage. For example, you can create time slots for talking after your child is done with homework and other chores. Another thing you don’t want to make room for is allowing their phone use to interrupt family moments like dinner time, vacations, car rides to school, etc.
It is also best to check on your child during bedtime to ensure that they aren’t chatting their nights away instead of getting some good rest. You can also try downloading some apps that can help limit your child’s screen time. These apps usually work by disabling their device when the time is up.
Model the behaviour you expect from your children
Parents should remember that children learn and pick up habits from them. It is, therefore, essential to model the behaviour you expect from your little ones. For example, if your kids see you using your phones and tablets around the clock, they will see no reason why they cannot be allowed to do so as well. You have the right to choose the “do as I say and as I do” approach, but you stand a better chance to convince your child if you “practice what you preach”.
Teach your child to protect sensitive information
As soon as your child starts using the internet, you need to make sure that you teach them about the risks of sharing sensitive personal and family information on the internet. That also means informing them about the importance of protecting their identity online.
During your discussion stage, let them know which personal and family information you can allow going public and which ones they should never make available on any app they use. Doing this will help them develop a good perception and understanding regarding identity protection.
You can also put other protective measures in place to help secure your child’s location when they go online. One of the best options is to use a virtual private network (VPN), which will connect all your child’s devices to a secure offsite server and use an encrypted connection to make sure that they keep all their browsing data safe on that connection.
Teach them about responsibility
It is important also to let your children know that the cell phones they use come with specific responsibilities. You can start by explaining to them that there are fees or charges associated with every data they use, every text message they send, every call they make, every online game they play, as well as media content they upload or download. You can also use it as an excellent opportunity to teach your child about the importance of budgeting.
In addition to teaching your child about responsible phone use, you should also ensure that they know everything they need to know about phone etiquette. For example, they need to turn their phone off or on silent mode when they are in a hospital, restaurant, movie theatre, etc.
Other important mobile phone etiquettes worth teaching your little one includes the following:
- Avoid posting content on social media with your location shown
- Avoid taking phone calls from numbers you do not know
- Always remember to ask permission from people if you want to take their photographs or record them
- Limit mobile phone usage when you are in school
- Avoid using your phone during family moments like dinner times, etc.
The online world can be dangerous, making it imperative to secure your children’s safety. Hopefully, you’ll leverage these tips for the best results.