You might be thinking about getting a cell phone for your kids, and you’re worried about keeping them safe. Here are six tips that can keep your children safe when using a cell phone.
1. Set Up Rules
Have a conversation with your kids about what rules apply to using the phones. Will they be allowed to use the phones at night? What about during meals? Can they use the phones during homework? Who will be allowed to get their number? Make sure the child understands what’s expected of them.
2. Use Social Networks Wisely
There’s no doubt that if your kids have a smartphone, they’ll want to use social networks. Most social networks have limits on what you can do on a computer, but their apps don’t often have those same blocks. Teach your kids about the importance of using those networks wisely. Let them know that what they post might be there forever and anyone can see them, and how that can affect their safety.
3. Limit Usage
It’s important to keep your kids from going overboard, and also keep them from exposing themselves to bullying or inappropriate content on their phones. There are lots of products available to limit the usage of a phone such as apps or phones with customized operating systems. Most phone operating systems have built-in restrictions that can limit access to the web or prevent the child from downloading apps. Be sure to clearly explain why you’re setting them up and the benefits to them.
4. Take Care of the Phone
It’s important for kids to understand the investment and responsibility of owning a smartphone. Make sure they have a pattern or PIN number to lock the phone so no one can access their information. Set up a charging station in a public area like a kitchen counter so they’ll remember to charge it overnight, and it won’t run out of power when they need it most.
5. Keep Their Privacy
Make sure your kids understand how to protect their privacy. Tell them not to give their phone number or address to people they don’t know and trust, and not to post that information online where anyone can see it.
6. Control GPS
Most cell phones have the ability to track them with GPS. Make sure your child understands how it can be used to locate them. The FTC recommends children share their location only with friends and family they’ve met in person and trust. Some parents choose to use this feature to check the location of their children to make sure they’re okay.