When your child gets their first smartphone or is able to use yours, you may be thinking about the associated costs. However, it can also be good practice to teach them how to stay safe when using these devices, especially if they will have access to the internet through Wi-Fi or mobile data plans. Rather than simply banning them from using these services, you may be able to impart important knowledge to them by educating them on the dangers that could potentially occur.
One of the simplest lessons they could learn could be to avoid answering a number that they do not recognise. As an example, if a number starting with 020 calls, yet you do not live in London, or have any ties to the area, then it could be entirely possible that the call is from a scammer or cold caller. While they may want to answer calls from their friends, this can be made easier by saving any known numbers within the phonebook. Any other calls could be left to go to voicemail. This way, if someone is trying to reach them, they can then simply leave a message explaining who they are and why they have called, allowing your child to return the call at their leisure.
As your child starts to gain more independence, they may venture out on their own. This could include the journey to and from school, as well as going to the shops, or even days out with their friends. Having a phone can help them to contact you if they need help, or simply to check-in and discuss any worries you may have. Should an incident occur, it can be helpful for them to have set contact details in case of an emergency, also known as ICE, that are accessible even without unlocking the phone. This also means that, if your child loses the phone, the individual who finds it could make contact.
It isn’t just scammers and friends who can contact your child on their phone. You may also want to inform them about how child grooming can occur. An individual may use messaging services to contact your child and create a false sense of trust. There may be signs that your child is in contact with someone they shouldn’t be, such as becoming more secretive with their phone. It can be imperative to report any such contact and to highlight the dangers of meeting up with people who they have met on social media or other platforms.
While the use of a smartphone can pose certain dangers, it can also help your child to keep in touch with both you and their loved ones. Teaching them about how to use the phone safely can allow them to have that much more independence while making sure they are only ever a call or message away, should you want or need to reach them.