Even as someone who is quite savvy when it comes to technology I am surprised by the number of young children with mobile phones these days. A time will come when your child might start asking for a mobile phone but please try and wait until you feel they are responsible enough to have one. My eldest was only allowed one once he started playing out with his friends and then only because it seemed a necessity, as parents we wanted peace of mind.
The pressure starts earlier and earlier as more parents are letting children have mobile phones at a younger age. It’s only natural your child will become more persistent in their request when they see their friends with new mobiles. But if you have an age in mind for getting their first mobile, stick with it, you must feel happy it’s the right decision for your family. Other people will have their own ideas about what is right and wrong but you stick with your instincts.
When you do let your child have a mobile phone there are some important things to consider.
The Type of Phone
To begin with I would advise getting quite a cheap and basic phone. The reason for this is anything expensive could be targeted by thieves, plus you also need to make sure they are reliable enough with their belongings and would not lose the phone in the first week of owning it. Once your child has a smartphone you need to think more carefully about their online safety, access to the internet can be a minefield if not managed correctly. Some smartphones have excellent parental controls as standard, you can turn off features of the phone you don’t want your child using so spend time investigating which mobile phone has the best inbuilt parental controls.
Installing Mobile Phone Security
Even after picking out the right phone you still want to get the best mobile phone security. Children can be quite naïve and trusting, joining different social media pages, giving out their details to anyone considered a “friend”. It doesn’t matter if they haven’t even met the person in real life. One way to protect your child is making sure you install adequate mobile security; Kaspersky Security Cloud has been developed to help protect your children in a connected world. It can be difficult keeping an eye on your children’s mobile activity, especially when they are at school, but the Kaspersky Security Cloud Family Package alerts you to suspicious activities and provides summaries of what your kids search, see and share. Information you would normally only find out if your children are very open and upfront, let’s be honest many are quite secretive about what they get up too. Thanks to Kaspersky you can give the illusion of privacy that your child craves whilst still monitoring behind the scenes to safeguard your child.
Have some rules in place
You want to make sure your child doesn’t grow up too quickly by seeing things not suitable for their age. If you are worried about anything that your Kaspersky Security Cloud family package flagged you can put extra rules in place to protect your child.
Make sure they know not to give away their personal information, the NSPCC says that includes their email address, full name, phone number, address and school name. Many of my son’s friends have made online gaming accounts with their actual date of birth or full name in the title, these friends know about not sharing their personal information but hadn’t even thought about the dangers of it being their gaming name!
Remember many social media sites have recommended ages so you could add those to your family rules as a guide. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp are all 13+. There are risks associated with these sites, children might find strangers trying to follow them and there is the danger of any pictures your child takes being shared.
Let your children know you’re always available to talk if they see anything they are unsure about. Whatever happens you need to be approachable so they will hopefully come to you with any issues.
Explore Online Together
The NSPCC have some useful resources about being safe online and one of their suggestions is to explore online together. By doing so you can see the types of things that interest your child and help them navigate more carefully. If they mention an app you’re not happy with see if you can find a safer alternative.
Adjust privacy settings on social media
Show them how to lock down their social media pages by changing the privacy settings and how to report someone they don’t feel comfortable with. Make sure they don’t turn on their location and pinpoint where they live.
Hopefully by following these tips your child will avoid some of the unpleasant experiences that can happen online.