How to Keep Your Child Safe on a Mobile Phone
With mobile phones becoming a more vital part of everyday life, children are getting access to devices at a younger age than ever before. Because of this, it is important that we understand the best ways to manage our kids’ phone usage and keep them safe online.
Ensuring that your child can safely navigate their device, whether it is a brand new flagship model or cheaper second-hand phone, should be a top priority - here, we consider the best places to start.
What are the Dangers for Children Using Phones?
With a first smartphone, there comes a lot of new responsibilities. When deciding whether your child is ready for a phone of their own, you should discuss the dangers that come with using phones to make sure they understand how they should conduct themselves online and what to do if they come across something inappropriate.
The main concerns to think about include:
- Sharing personal information
- Messaging or posting inappropriate things
- Accessing inappropriate material
- Making online or in-app purchases
- Spending too much time on their phone, especially when in school
Although your child must be aware of their responsibilities, it is also up to you as the parent to enforce any rules and ensure they’re remaining safe.
Understand Basic Safety Best Practices
You should have a basic knowledge of your child’s phone, how to navigate it and understand the key safety issues to be aware of.
The Internet Keep Safe Coalition outlines three essentials when considering children’s online safety:
- Contact - Who is your child communicating with? Do they really know them?
- Content - Are they accessing appropriate media, and can they find anything they shouldn’t?
- Conduct - How does your child act online? Are they being bullied or bullying others?
Set Up Rules
Before giving your child free rein on a phone, you should set out clear rules. This might include rules about how much time they can spend on their phone, the number of apps they can download and the type of apps they can access.
If your child is a keen photographer and their phone, like most modern smartphones, has a camera, you should also make sure they know what kind of photos are appropriate to take and share.
Setting up clear guidelines will help establish what is expected of you both. Your child will likely not be too happy about the restrictions you place on them, but remind them that they are necessary - help them see it as an opportunity for them to build trust and show they can be responsible.
As your child gets older and understands the responsibility that comes with owning a phone, you can begin taking away the restrictions, giving them more freedom.
Activate Parental Controls
One of the easiest ways to maximise your child’s safety as they use their phone is to activate and manage any parental controls.
Pretty much all modern phones will have a range of in-built parental controls that you can set up. You will be able to limit a range of things like screen time and purchases while also controlling the kind of things your child has access to.
How to Activate Parental Controls on an Android Phone
To set up parental control on an Android phone, you should do the following:
- Launch the ‘Play Store’ application and go ‘Settings’ from the top left ‘Menu’ button.
- Scroll down to ‘Parental Controls’ and toggle on.
- You will then need to create a PIN.
- Once created, you can set up restrictions for various app categories.
This will help ensure you can control the kind of things your child has access to.
How to Activate Parental Controls on an iPhone
You can control a variety of functions through your child’s iPhone settings.
To manage what your child has access to:
- Go to ‘Settings’.
- Tap ‘Screen Time’ and ‘Turn on Screen Time’.
- Go to ‘Content & Privacy Restrictions’.
- Here, you’ll be prompted to create a 4-digit code.
- When you’ve confirmed the passcode, you’ll be able to restrict the type of content that can be accessed - this includes restricting in-app purchasing, blocking websites, location sharing and more.
Use Parental Control Apps
There are also plenty of third-party parental control apps that will help you keep your child safe when using their phone.
Some of the best of these apps include:
- Net Nanny
- Norton Family
- Kaspersky Safe Kids
From these apps, you will be able to:
- Use GPS to track your child’s phone
- Block certain apps
- Install website filters
- Set screen time limits
- Track who they’re communicating with
- Install anti-virus software
These kinds of tools can be invaluable when aiming to keep children safe online.
Monitor Phone Usage
Even with a variety of apps or restrictive settings in place, it will also help to keep a physical eye on your child’s phone usage - there can be flaws with these controls no matter how extensive, and it is always beneficial to keep having conversations about technology.
Don’t make them feel like they have to hide things, but talk to them about their online activities. Show an interest in how they are spending their time on their phone without turning it into an interrogation.
If you are keeping a keen eye on how much your child uses their phone and what they get up to on it, you can have more productive conversations about what is appropriate for them and why.
If your child is ready for their first smartphone, a second-hand device can be a great option. With a quality reconditioned phone, your child won’t feel like they’re missing out on the smartphone experience, and you’ll be saving some money in the process! Why not browse our range of second-hand phones now to find a phone for all the family?