It’s hard to imagine a world without smartphones — they keep you connected to friends and family, and most importantly, allow you to keep in contact with your children and their whereabouts!
While a smartphone can provide many benefits, careful monitoring and open communication is important, especially around the use of apps and access to online content that you may not want them to see.
Parents are best placed to know when their child is ready for a smartphone and its associated risks — their level of maturity and critical reasoning skills may help determine this. Check out our guidance on what to consider before giving your child their first smartphone.
What to look out for
- Children may be inadvertently exposed to content you might not want them to see.
- The amount of time your child spends on their smartphone may take them away from outdoor activities or time with family.
- Social networking or messaging apps downloaded on smartphones may allow content sharing, messaging/online chat, photo or video sharing, video calling and live streaming.
- Many apps and smartphones allow you to share your location at a point in time or in real-time.
- Some apps downloaded on smartphones may include in-app purchases.
- If the wireless connection or information storage is inadequately secured, the data and recordings may be accessed by other people and shared without consent, and may allow outsiders to contact your child online without you knowing.
How to stay safe
- Help your child to set a strong passcode.
- Consider using parental controls to block or restrict specific apps, features and access to inappropriate content.
- Set boundaries around the times and areas in the house smartphones can be used.
- Install software updates as they are released.
- Disable location services when they are not needed.
- Secure your home network; it’s wise to change your wi-fi password on a regular basis especially if you’re still using the default password.
- Use secure public wi-fi hotspots if you’re out and about.
- Only pair via Bluetooth with another device you are aware of and can control.
- Help make your child’s accounts private on social networking apps to avoid unwanted contact.
- Remain engaged in your child’s online lives and let them know you’ll be there to support them if something goes wrong online.