As parents gleefully start planning for back to school, one question that may come up is ‘Does my child need a cell phone?’. If your answer is yes, there are some things that you can do to help protect them from cyber bullies, predators and scammers.
- Enable the password protected screen lock. Let your child know that the password should not be shared with anyone but Mom or Dad.
- Know every app on your child’s phone, every account that is created and what the passwords are.
- Check your child’s phone for disturbing content on a regular basis. Their access to a phone should depend on you having access to it as well. You pay the bills, you make the rules.
- Check the privacy and security settings on the phone and apps. Be careful with location tracking. If you can find your child, so can someone else.
- Keep the apps and phone software up to date.
- Have a talk with your kids about online safety. Teach them to:
- Never respond to calls, texts or emails from people they don’t know.
- Talk to them about cyber bullying, harassment and predators. Make sure they know they can come to you for help.
- Be careful about what they post. Too much personal information can make them vulnerable. Posting the wrong photo or making the wrong comment can mess up your life.
- Only connect to people through social media that they know.
- Watch for geo-tagging on photos. They don’t want their exact location to be displayed.
Even if you don’t follow all these guidelines, having a frank and honest discussion about phone safety and modeling desired behavior will go a long way to keeping your kids safe. For more resources on determining when is the right time for a cell phone and how to keep your kids and teens cyber safe, visit Safe Search Kids by Google.