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The use of smartphones has become so rampant that parents find it unavoidable to get their children a mobile device which they can use to contact them when they are away from home. The convenience of these mobile phones comes with many things that parents should worry about, like bullying, theft and internet safety.
Smartphones have now upgraded and appear as small hand-held computers where children can have access to all content, including inappropriate images and videos as well as violence. Parents, therefore, need to be aware of the content which is at their children’s exposure and consequently knows how to control the right content which should be accessed by them.
Factors to Consider While Acquiring a Phone for Your Child
The main objective of buying a phone for your child is to ensure that you can reach one another at all times even during emergencies. A Pay As You Go plan might be very expensive for the young generation who need to keep in touch with their peers. Having an itemised monthly bill will be a great idea in ensuring that you can control the amount of money used on your child’s phone data and talk time.
The following are questions which you should ask yourself before acquiring a phone for your child.
Is the phone internet enabled?
All UK manufactured phones have an Internet filter where the content viewed by children can be controlled. Many parents, however, are not aware of this feature and operators can only activate the filters upon request to prevent children from accessing adult content.
Does the phone have a Bluetooth?
An activated Bluetooth on your child’s phone enables other people to share content with them while in their vicinity. This feature also makes the phone’s personal information accessible by a third-party which puts the child at a risk of having strangers accessing contacts, videos and pictures stored on the phone which can be used in a destructive way. Switching off the Bluetooth to ‘invisible’ safeguards your child’s phone from intruders.
Whom is the phone registered to?
A phone registered to an adult will open gates for your child to access content rated 18+. Passing a phone from an adult requires that you talk to your operator to activate the Internet filter on the phones and ensure that parental controls are set to default on the child’s device.
Are chat rooms disabled?
Your children may be able to access chat rooms and games which have a chat feature and hence expose them to bullying or adult rated materials. Contact your operators for their systems and policies on moderation of chat rooms to shield your child from being a victim. The operator, however, may not have the ability to moderate all chat rooms and it is your responsibility to monitor them.
Have you switched off ‘location services?’
Activating the location on your child’s phone is important in keeping track of their whereabouts. You may, however, consider switching off this feature if you want to keep your child’s location anonymous to everyone. This will prevent strangers from tracking your child which could expose him or her to cyber predators or bullies. Vodafone gives a detailed guide on the privacy and safety issues which come with switching on location services. Location apps may not be provided when purchasing your phone but the use of Wi-Fi or GPS on your child’s phone can communicate and locate your child’s current location without the operator’s knowledge. Confirm from their phones to ensure that locations are set either off or on depending to your preference. You can also disable Wi-Fi and GPS on the child’s phone to deactivate location services.
Enlighten your teenage children who use social media platforms to always switch off their location services on their profiles to prevent their social media ‘friends’ from knowing their current location.
Have you educated your child against sharing contacts with strangers?
Your child should be aware of the dangers of sharing private information, like phone numbers, with strangers they meet online. Vodafone and Childnet International offer parent’s guides that can help in close monitoring of your child’s mobile use. Spy software would also be a great idea to keep guard of the content and calls dialed and received by your child. Although this may be invading your child’s privacy, it may go a long way in protecting your child’s privacy and safety until they attain a responsible age.