Sunday, March 5, 2017

Smartphone Safety Advice for Parents

By Julia H.

Today, for most of us, our everyday lifestyle is filled with electronic devices; especially smartphones. Smartphones are a vital device that allow us to contact each other and access the internet. Almost every child has one. Although having a way to contact your children can have significant advantages, you should also be careful with giving children smart phones.With the benefits of access to the internet, come the dangers. Here are a few words of advice on what you can do to ensure your child's safety and make them responsible smart phone users.

Unfortunately, mobile phones were not designed for privacy and security. Not only do they do a poor job of protecting your communications, they also expose you to new kinds of surveillance risks—especially location tracking. (“Surveillance Self-Defense”, 2017) One of the most common issues of smartphones is the lack of privacy. Many apps on the phones use gps location tracking to make their apps function. This allows them to see where your child's phone location is, and also your child. This location could easily be taken advantage of and lead to unsafe situations for your child. In order to keep them safe you should warn them about this and show your children how to turn off the location settings on the phone. For certain apps the location is nice to have, like when using google maps or find my iphone, but the location should not be necessary for applications like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat.

Another big problem is cyberbullying. The use of electronic communication to bully a person is greatly increasing. It's hard to protect your child if you don't understand the problem with cyberbullying or see it happen. There are a few ways to prevent cyberbullying from the parent's standpoint. You should learn about the social media apps your child likes to use that way you can become familiar with them. Have some conversations about the issues of online cyberbullying with your child. Always encourage them to speak up when something is wrong whether they are being bullied or they know of someone else that is. Help your child save, print, or photograph the bullying and their email to prove it is cyberbullying and contact the police if the threats become worse. The biggest thing parents can do to prevent cyberbullying is by being their child's “go to guy or gal”. Always be supportive and understanding. Try not to overreact and blame your child but also don't underreact and tell them to just deal with it.
Online predators are also another big threat. The internet is very anonymous so it's easy for people to fake identities and manipulate others especially children who are easy targets for them. This is another issue that you should talk to your kids about. Knowledge and awareness could be considered the best defense against online predators. Let them know how they can prevent being a target. Don't let them give out any private information to strangers. If it's for registering onto a website make sure they asking for your permission beforehand. Ask that your children do not respond to strangers that are trying to “get to know them”.  

The best thing you can do to help your child stay safe is warn them about these dangers and always be a good role model. Show your child what it's like to be a responsible person when using your phone. Be mature when on social media sites, such as when posting information on Facebook. Use carefulness and nothing but respect when interacting with others. If you are against something like a political post for example, you can state your opinion, but try your best to say it in a civil manner. Limit your time on your phone to show them it's important to spend time without it. Children follow by example, so make it your responsibility that your child truly understands how important it is to be careful when using today's electronic devices.



Sources
Chen, Brian X. "What's The Right Age For a Child to Get a Smartphone?" NYTimes. N.p., 20 July 2016. Web. 02 Feb. 2017.
Homeland Security. "Security Tip (ST05-002)." Keeping Children Safe Online | US-CERT. N.p., 1 Oct. 2016. Web. 17 Feb. 2017.
"The Problem with Mobile Phones." Surveillance Self-Defense. Electronic Frontier Foundation, 12 Jan. 2017. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.
"Fighting Online Predators:Tips for Parents, Children and Teens." Fighting Online Predators:Tips for Parents, Children and Teens. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.

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