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As the children are getting older I am becoming more and more aware of the access they have to the internet – apps, internet browsers and games on their tablets and even through the TV. But in time they will have their own mobile phones which open up a whole new world to them – and even more worry from a parent’s perspective around how to keep them safe online.
When children first get mobile phones it’s so exciting for them. They can be connected to their friends constantly and parents get to know that they are safe and always contactable, especially when they start to walk to school by themselves. But mobile phones also bring with them their own set of concerns – do you really know what your children have access to online and how can you keep them safe from the potential dangers when they’re out of your sight? When children spend such a big chunk of their day at school how can you keep them mobile safe?
Here are my top tips for keeping your children as mobile safe as possible:
Always talk – and teach!
I know many parents who have access to their children’s phones, who know the PIN, can unlock it and check messages and browsing history regularly. But there also comes a point when this can become an invasion of privacy. Instead, have regular conversations with your children, show them how to use their new device and how to set up security features like a PIN Number and a Find My Phone service (if they have an iPhone). Make sure they know how to keep their new, expensive, mobile phone physically secure.
Also, set boundaries of what apps and websites they can and can’t access. Review these boundaries regularly and make sure they fit with the needs of the children as they grow. I’ll be holding off on their social media access as long as possible but I know, eventually, every child gets fully submerged into this online life – it’s part of the world we live in now. Make sure your child knows what they’re allowed to do and trust them as much as you can.
Make sure that children know not to just click any pop up, chat to anyone who messages them or to make in-app purchases. If they know to question what they see on their screen then they should soon get the hang of what’s right and what isn’t when it comes to their mobile device.
Keep the conversation going
Don’t just have one conversation with your children about mobile safety, make it a regular conversation just like stranger danger or what to do if they’re lost etc. Make mobile safety a normal topic to chat about and let your children know they can always talk to you if they have any worries or concerns. Talk to your children about the things they see online, what they like to do online and how they use social media.
Protect their devices – and them
Even now with tablets and other devices, we can use services to monitor the children’s internet usage, give them access to age appropriate material and make sure that they can only use their devices between certain times of the day. This is something that we do and will continue to do as the children get older but adapting the restrictions to suit their age and internet needs is something to think about.
One security service which offers products that give parents ways to protect their children when they’re exploring and learning online is Kaspersky. They give parents the security of being able to manage children’s devices remotely, monitor how they’re using them and even see where the devices are at any given time.
The Safe Browser for iOS stops unwanted pop ups and blocks access to unsuitable content like adult material, gambling, alcohol etc and automatically stops any malicious content too – keeping the devices free of viruses and other online dangers.
Read up about the potential dangers
One of the first steps to keeping them safe online is knowing the risks. You can read articles online to find out more about phishing, viruses and Trojans as well as cyberbullying, easily spending money online and online grooming. The risks are vast but knowledge is power – and knowing exactly what risks are out there puts you one step ahead.
Parental controls and services I mentioned like Kaspersky’s Security Cloud are great as a barrier to limit a child’s exposure to risk but it’s also a good idea to research the risks as much as possible – and to keep up to date with the news for any new ways people are using the internet negatively.
Teach the children privacy
It’s important when children start using social media to make sure that their profiles are private, and to make sure they share as little information about themselves as possible. As years go by the internet will know so much about your children from where they went to school, to dates of birth, friendship circles and even where they live – it’s best to limit how public that information is for as long as possible.
But, when children have a phone and access to the internet, social media and even simple things like SMS messaging and Whatsapp children will spend time playing games, chatting and surfing the web. It’s just down to us to keep them as safe as possible whilst they do so. With the help of software like Kaspersky and all the online resources that are out there I’m sure that children can stay mobile safe even when out of our sight at school.
LP and Little Man won’t be having mobile phones for a while yet but when they do I know I’ll be reading up as much as possible, protecting their devices – as well as them, and making sure we always talk about what they’re doing online and the potential dangers they face.
Do your children have mobile phones? What are your tips for making sure they stay mobile safe at school?