According to a recent study by MDG Blog; "half of first-time iPad and video iPod users are children under age five. Smart devices also top our kids’ holiday wish lists, with iPads requested by 44 percent and the iPod Touch and iPhone asked for by approximately 30 percent". Moreover, an article in The Telegraph highlighted how approximately 9 out of 10 pupils in UK schools now own a mobile phone. The influence of these mobile devices, and the widespread access to the Internet that they offer children, creates a multitude of security issues for parents. It is important that you educate your children how to use these devices safely and responsibly, as well as implementing measures in control to protect your children's privacy and personal information.
How To Keep Your Child Safe On Their Mobile
Parents can implement the following measures to safeguard their children's mobile devices:
Implement parental control settings: In the same way that you can customise your home broadband security settings, mobile phone providers will also permit you to implement certain parental controls on your child's mobile device. For instance, mobile phone providers such as Vodafone, O2 and EE enable you to block your child's access to inappropriate sites, as well as monitoring the content, which they are able to view. It is advisable that you visit the 'Parental Advice' website section of your child's mobile phone provider in order to locate and implement the services which they offer.
Allocate a PIN code for your child's phone: By allocating a PIN code for your child's phone, you can ensure that only you and your child can access their phone. This means that if your child's phone is lost or stolen, their personal information will remain protected.
Monitor your child's mobile device usage: It is important that your child does not spend an excessive amount of time on their mobile device. Excessive mobile device use can lead to eyestrain, tiredness and irritability, as well as exorbitant mobile device charges! Therefore, you should agree a designated amount of time during the day in which your child is allowed to use their mobile device. You can oversee this amount of time by stating that the mobile device must be charged overnight in the living room. By doing so, you can observe whether your child is using their mobile device for a healthy period of time and prevent them from using it late into the night. As a rule, you should make sure your child takes regular breaks from playing games on their mobile devices. For example, you could enforce a 5-minute screen break for every hour of mobile device usage. This enables your child to rest their eyes as well as preventing them from becoming too immersed and addicted to their mobile device.
Select an acceptable mobile phone tariff for your child: In the same way that you need to monitor the amount of time your child spends on their mobile device, you also need to monitor how much money they spend. Many apps and online games encourage children to spend money in order to progress to the next stage of the game. Therefore, if you decide upon a specific pay-as-you-go or monthly tariff, you can limit how much money your child expends online. By teaching your child to use their mobile device in moderation, you can prevent them from making costly financial mistakes in the future.
Teach mobile phone privacy: Explain to your child that they need to exercise caution online. Advise your child not to share their location on social networks, and never to give their mobile phone number or other contact details to someone whom they have only met online. It is advisable that you teach your children to come to you for advice if they are unsure whether to post any of their personal information online.
How To Keep Your Child Safe While They Are Playing Online Games
Keep up to date with current gaming and app trends: By talking with your child, other parents and by visiting online forums, you can gain a better understanding of the types of games and apps that your child plays. By doing so, you can investigate the nature of these games, as well as discovering the specific safety measures which these sites have implemented in order to protect your child and their personal information. Many of these gaming sites, such as the Association of UK Interactive Entertainment, provide parental control options, which you can utilise; thereby enabling your child to play their favourite games safely and responsibly!
Teach your child not to share their personal information across gaming sites: It is important to teach your child that online users of all ages play Internet games. Moreover, many gamers use 'avatars' so your child will not know their identity. Therefore you should teach your child that, just because they have played a game with someone, this does not mean that they know that person. Consequently, if a gamer asks for your child's personal information, advise them to always come to you and you will resolve the issue. In this manner, you should also advise your child not to associate with these gamers outside of the game environment, i.e. on social networks, discussion forums or in real life.
Check the age rating of the game which your children are playing: Monitor all of the games which your child plays on their mobile device and find out their age ratings. The Pan-European Gaming Information (PEGI) system allocates specific age ratings for games and classifies the type of content, which is appropriate for each age group. By comparing these guidelines with the rating on the game, you can decide whether your child is old enough to play the game. If in doubt, talk with your child about the games that they play online and test them for yourself. If you are educated about the types of games your child plays, as well as the online users with whom they play, you will be able to make an informed decision about whether the game is appropriate for your child to play.
How To Keep Your Child Safe On Their iPad and iPhone
A recent infographic by Little Taps revealed that; "58% of children aged 12 and under who live in tablet-owning houses use the devices" . The infographic also highlighted that "77% of children use tablets to play downloaded games and 43% of children use tablets to watch TV shows/movies". Consequently, it is important that you implement sufficient parental controls on your iPads and iPhones in order to prevent your children from accessing inappropriate content. Therefore, listed below are the numerous ways in which you can install parental controls on your iPads and iPhones:
How to implement parental controls on your iPhone:
- Click on the "Settings" icon on your iPad and select "General Settings" from the left hand menu.
- Once in this section, select "Restrictions" and click "Enable Restrictions".
- At this stage, you will be required to create a 4 digit pass code. Similarly to the pass code for your iPad, aim to choose a pass code which is easy for you to remember, but one which your child is unlikely to guess( i.e. a birthday or memorable date).
- Once you have created a pass code, you can scroll through the various applications on your iPhone and select which ones you wish to remain accessible to your children. It is also possible to alter the ability to install or delete apps. Simply switch off the "In-App Purchases" option. You can also block multimedia content by selecting the arrow next to "Music" and "Podcasts". These options will enable you to prevent your children from purchasing apps or music on your iPhone.
- There are various other options on your iPhone for which you can implement parental controls. Within the "Restrictions" menu, you can select "Movies" and set various ratings according to your child's age. The various age ratings available are listed as follows: Don't Allow Movies, G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17 and Allow All Movies. The same options are applicable for TV Shows. Simply click on the "TV Shows" section within the "Restrictions" menu and select your preferred age rating restrictions.
- If you have any books on your iPhone, you can filter out any content which may be inappropriate for your child to read. Simply visit the "Restrictions" menu, select "Books" and click on "Explicit Sexual Content". There is a similar option available for Siri. Within the "Restrictions" menu, select " Siri" , then click on "Explicit Language" and "Web Search Content" . This function will prevent Siri from accessing web content which contains explicit language.
- As well as individual parental controls, you can implement broader parental control settings for your iPhone apps. Within the "Restrictions" menu, select "Apps" and choose from the following age restrictions: 4+, 9+, 12+ and 17+. Once activated, these age rating restrictions will prevent your child from downloading apps which have been deemed inappropriate for their age range.
- Broader parental controls are also available for the websites which your child is permitted to visit. Within the "Restrictions" menu, select "Websites" and you can choose from the following restriction settings: All Websites, Limit Adult Content and Specific Websites Only.
There are also a series of apps which have been specifically designed to help parents monitor their children's smart device usage. Apps such as ParentKit, Mobicip and Norton Family enable parents to filter out inappropriate content and assign schedules for each of their children in order to limit their smart device usage. By utilising these apps alongside the parental control settings provided by your specific smart device, you can remain confident that your child is safeguarded from accessing inappropriate web, multimedia and app content whilst they are using your iPhones and iPads.