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Challenge: Kids and Technology

How to Keep Your Children Safe on a Smartphone

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Kids are getting access to smart technology such as phones from earlier and earlier ages. The cost has dropped and parents appreciate the convenience smartphones bring into the home environment. It’s easy to keep contact with your children when they’re away from you, and there are plenty of enriching, educational app games to help kids learn and grow. The only issue with smartphones is that they don’t come optimized for the safety of your child. You’ll need to put some safeguards in place before you gift a phone to your child.

Be Cautious With Apps

Not all apps are as innocent as they may seem. Many age restricted apps aren’t very restricted at all, as all users have to do is check a box that says they’re old enough to download them. Anybody can tick that box, and you don’t want it to be your child. Monitor the apps they download onto their phone. Most apps don’t filter their content, and your child could be exposed to things you wouldn’t allow them to view.

Block Purchasing Abilities

Some apps cost money, and most free apps have options for in-app purchases. These include power-ups or bonuses for many popular games. Turn purchasing abilities off or utilize the parental lock before allowing your child access to the app store. If the phone doesn’t have this option, simply don’t input or save your card information to the app store, and don’t link a PayPal account. This can prevent accidental purchases by a child who doesn’t understand what will happen when they tap a button.

Track the Smartphone

Putting a tracking app on a smartphone isn’t necessarily for monitoring your child’s whereabouts, though it can be used to do so. Children are prone to losing things, and this includes their expensive smartphone. Smartphones often contain sensitive, personal information. You don’t want that information getting into the wrong hands. Downloading a tracking app will help you locate a lost phone before a thief does. If a thief has already found it, these apps can help point law enforcement in the right direction.

Turn Locations Off

Some apps and functions will require access to the phone’s location. This is usually because they work with local maps, or provide bonuses specific to certain areas. Keep these off. If the phone is infiltrated, a hacker can gain access to your child’s approximate location at any given time. Messages or posts marked with a location can be seen by the wrong people, alerting potentially dangerous individuals to your child’s daily habits and where they may find your child. It isn’t worth the risk to leave locations on.

Block Sites and View Browsing History

You can download special browsers in the app store that utilize parental controls. You’ll have a password, and you’ll be able to filter the sites your child is allowed to access on his or her smartphone. Malicious websites pop up all the time, so make sure you update any preloaded filters that come with the app. When you review your child’s browsing history and discover sites you feel may be unsafe, you can manually add them to the browser’s restricted list. Remember to uninstall any browsers that come pre-installed into the phone, so your child will only have access to internet through filtered channels.

It’s great to provide your child with a smartphone, so long as you’re approaching it in a safe manner. As a final word of advice – children are clumsy. They can make use of your old phone when you upgrade to a new one. If you intend on getting your child a new phone, there’s no reason to buy them a luxury model. Make sure their phones are equipped with screen protectors and sturdy cases to reduce the risk of damage to the device.

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