Mobile phones have become intrinsically linked to everyday life. Many parents find it difficult to decide when they should let their kids get a smartphone – and how to keep them safe while using it.
According to a 2020 study by Childwise, more than two-thirds of children aged 5-16 years old have a smartphone. The majority of children are phone owners by the age of just seven.
This is at odds with many parents of school-age children that grew up towards the end of the 20th century. If you’re worried about your kids’ smartphone safety, here are six ways to increase their protection including how to install a VPN.
Set up parental controls in settings
This can stop certain things from appearing on your child’s phone, but it’s also vital to have conversations with them about using their phone safely. You might also want to consider third-party apps such as Bark or Qustodio which have optimized parental control features. We will discuss this in more detail further down the article.
Install a VPN
Having a phone means that you can contact your child when they are out and about. If they are using public networks, however, then they could be at risk of falling foul to hackers.
Downloading a VPN to their device adds an extra layer of protection in this instance. It stops anyone who might be snooping on a public network from accessing their activity. This could come in handy, for example, if they need to access mobile banking.
Stress the dangers of oversharing on social media
Technological barriers are great as a last resort but the best way for your kids to stay safe is to be vigilant when using their device. Advice on that is best off if it comes from you.
Sharing personal details such as addresses on social media can make youngsters the target of scammers. This often happens unintentionally, so be sure to push a message of caution.
Set expectations before they first get a phone
Before you get your child their first phone, there’s every chance that they have been pestering you to buy them one beforehand.
Those moments should be used as opportunities to set some ground rules. It’s also an ideal time to talk about your own experiences of having a smartphone. Remember that your kids are likely to follow whatever example you set with your own device usage.
Keep phones out of bedrooms overnight
This is another area where you may have to bite the bullet and join the process for it to work most effectively.
Ensuring that your child does not use their phone when alone in their room means that you can at least keep half an eye on their activity. Crucially, you can step in if you notice something untoward.