Cell phones are considered by most as a necessity; yes, even for kids. It comes in handy to keep in touch with kids and ensure their safety. It also helps kids with their school work and research, and their social development. Moreover, it is a great way to teach kids about responsibility and accountability.
Phone use, like most good things, has its risks and dangers. It is, therefore, crucial for you as a parent to discuss cell phone safety with your kids before handing them their first phones. Make sure that they not only know the essential cell phone safety tips, but also the consequences of neglecting them.
Cell phone safety could be tackled in three main ways: The Basics, Keeping it Private, and Keeping It Secure. It encompasses a wide spectrum of activities from giving out your cell phone number to sending text messages to being on social media and much more.
Know Your Phone Inside and Out
Make it a point to show your child the valuable features their phone includes; Lock screen options, passwords, biometrics, privacy, location, and more.
Keep Your Phone Locked
It is important to make sure your child has their phone screen locked to avoid others from snooping. Having their phone locked will prevent their phone and personal data from falling into the wrong hands.
Program The Phone’s Speed Dial
Have your kids program their phone’s speed dial with your contact information and other emergency numbers. With this, they will be able to get in contact with you quickly in an urgent or emergency situation.
Use A Phone Case and Screen Protector
Provide your child’s phone with a durable phone case and screen protector. Make sure they understand that they are responsible for keeping it damage-free and not losing it.
Keep Your Phone Charged
Remind your child that it is their responsibility to keep their phone charged. A phone with a drained battery is of no use to them. Also over time, the phone can degrade when the battery is drained too often.
Know Your Limits (data usage, minutes, and rules)
Discuss with them their limitations with their phone use. This includes the data and minutes they are allotted, and the basic cell phone rules they must follow at home and in school. For example, not using their cell phone during family time.
Keeping It Private
Don’t Share Personal Information
Kids must have a clear understanding that personal information must be kept private and not freely shared with just anyone. Places where personal information could be accidentally shared included via texts, phone calls, private messaging apps, forums, and social media. For social media specifically, ensure that their accounts are set to private, not public. If a cybercriminal were to gain access to this personal information, it could lead to identity theft.
Don’t Talk To Strangers
This age-old advice applies even in this digital age. Remind your child to be wary of accepting calls and responding to texts, calls, chats, and emails from unknown numbers. Also, if they are on social media, to not accept friend requests or followers they do not know.
Turn Off Geotagging
Don’t “check-in” on social media platforms. This may be used by predators to track down your child in-person and take advantage of them.
Keep It Secure
Be Mindful of Your Online Activities
Teach your kids about the various online dangers that are associated with online browsing. This includes cyberbullying, malware, sexual predators, scammers, hackers, and more. Teach them how to address these dangers if they encounter them online. Also, remind them to be careful about what they post or share online.
Be Wary When Downloading Apps and Games
Tell your child to be careful of what they download, apps, games, etc., as they may contain viruses or malware that could infect their cell phone. Often, these apps and games are disguised as being legitimate or created by a well-known company. Once their cell phone is infected, the cybercriminal will be able to access their phone data, control their phone, and/or spy on their phone.
Be Cautious of What You Click On
Teach kids not to click on links they receive via email or messaging from unknown sources, and on the websites that they visit. Doing so could compromise their cell phone.
One of the most essential factors to ensure your kid’s safety while using their phone is teaching them about being responsible for their actions. It is equally important that “you walk the talk.” You must be a role model for your child when it comes to being a responsible cell phone user.
It is your responsibility as a parent to keep your kid safe without restricting them too much to the point they are unable to explore and grow. Arm them with the necessary knowledge they can use to keep dangers at bay. Knowing that you have taught them well will go a long way for your peace of mind. If you want to add an extra layer of protection, you could also opt to activate parental controls on your kids’ mobile devices or install a reliable monitoring app on their phone.