Has your child entered the world of smartphones and tablets? It may have started with an innocent clip of Elmo on your iPhone at a restaurant, but before you know it, you’re buying tablets and setting up email accounts. It’s all going smoothly until they start asking for their own smartphone because “everyone has one!”. Research conducted by Childwise revealed that a staggering 53% of children possess a smartphone before the age of seven. However, the prevalence of inappropriate online content, fears about child predators, and the negative effects of excessive screen time on social development might make you hesitant to fulfill this particular holiday request. So, here are ten what to do before giving a child a smartphone.
#1 Use PIN or password
To keep your child’s handset secure, it’s important to set up a password. This ensures that only your child can access it. Be sure to explain the importance of not sharing this password or PIN with anyone else.
#2 You can start not with a smartphone
Keeping an eye on your kids doesn’t necessarily require a smartphone. While some parents feel it’s the only option, consider this clever alternative. It is not necessary to give a child their first phone at 5-10 years old if your main goal is to look after a child. You can buy smartwatches: they have a speaker for calls, you can listen to what is happening around you, GPS is installed, you can set up acceptable walking zones, and much more. Just remember that there are many devices for children, and a smartphone is far from the only option.
#3 Talk about online scams
Among those things to consider before buying a phone for children is internet scams. However, explaining concepts like phishing and online predators to a 6-year-old can be difficult. Even some adults are not familiar with these terms!
My advice? Keep it simple. Use Daddy’s phone as an example. Tell them that Daddy doesn’t answer calls from strangers and that he doesn’t respond to messages from people he doesn’t know on Facebook. You can also role-play to help young children understand.
#4 Turn on filters
To protect your children from accessing inappropriate content on their mobile phones, contact the mobile provider and request adult content filters to be turned on. Keep in mind that this will only work when they use the 3G/4G connection provided by the mobile network. Additionally, make sure that your broadband provider’s network filters are turned on at home to prevent access to inappropriate content on your Wi-Fi network.
When you’re on the go, encourage your children to use only Friendly Wi-Fi hotspots. These hotspots are part of a government-supported scheme that encourages Wi-Fi owners to block access to pornographic sites. You can check for the Friendly Wi-Fi logo to ensure the hotspot adheres to these guidelines.
If you are not sure that these measures will be enough, you can use the connection through VPN servers. Don’t be afraid even if you don’t know how to set up a VPN on Android. It’s simple, you just need to install VPN for Android phone and enable VPN. Although this protects against data interception and hacker attacks, the application opens access to any content. This means that in combination with VeePN, you should use the adult content filter. In this case, the child will be protected from all sides.
#5 Parental controls
Apple and Google acknowledge a common truth: children cannot use their devices or services without the consent of a parent or guardian. For parents who are concerned about their children’s online activities, both companies offer options that restrict access to devices, apps, hours, and purchases. This feature, known as “parental controls,” is akin to what we offer in the home security industry.
As a mother, I promptly set up parental controls on my kids’ tablets to protect them from online dangers and excessive screen time. However, my children quickly realized that I was limiting their activities, and they viewed me as a dictator. Despite their reaction, I stand firm in my decision to safeguard them from predators and screen addiction.
#6 Set screen time limits
The Screen Time feature on iPhones running iOS 12 and above allows users to set time limits for different app categories, activate a ‘Downtime’ period for selected apps only, and restrict communication and content access. To activate, go to Settings, select Screen Time, and follow the instructions. For iOS11 or below, limited app access can be restricted in the General settings under Restrictions.
#7 Turn off in-game purchases
Are you worried about your kids running up a huge bill by making accidental or intentional in-app purchases? Don’t worry, there’s a solution. You can prevent purchases completely or set up a pin code requirement to confirm before each purchase. To implement these safety measures, check out the full details here. Keep your wallet and your peace of mind intact!
#8 Malicious application protection
Attention parents! If you have kids around the age of 9, you know how frequently they ask for new apps. But beware, not all apps are safe and appropriate for your kids. If your kids can download apps without your approval, make sure to activate parental controls immediately.
Avoid free apps that bombard your kids with in-app purchases. It’s better to spend a few dollars on a high-quality, self-contained game than to constantly worry about accidental purchases or malicious links. And don’t forget, kids can also download money-gobbling apps on their laptops. Stay ahead of the game and check out our guide to child-proofing your kids’ laptops. Keep your children safe and happy while using technology.
#9 Recommended age for social networks – 13 years
Are kids under 13 using TikTok? While there is supposed to be an age restriction, it turns out there is a separate version of the app with limited features for young kids. But before you let your child join, it’s worth considering the potential risks. TikTok has been known to attract sexual predators, and social media use, in general, can have negative effects on mental health. It’s important to take age restrictions seriously to protect our kids.
#10 Get a case and a screen protector
To keep your child’s phone protected in case it accidentally gets dropped, consider getting a case and screen protector. We’ve compiled a list of the best iPhone cases to help you choose the right one.
Kids today are digital natives and technology is an integral part of their life. It is important for parents to take proactive steps in helping keep their kids safe online. By implementing parental controls, setting screen time limits, turning off in-game purchases, protecting against malicious applications, enforcing the recommended age for social networks (13 years or older) and etc. All this will benefit the healthy and balanced development of the child in a world stuffed with electronics.
If you’re looking for a way to organize your phone, this is a great resource!