Smart Phone Safety Tips
Smartphones have completely changed from the way cellphones used to be. Now with the ability to access the internet 24/7, different apps and sites designed for smartphones can be easy ways for scammers, hackers, predators, and cyber-bullies to get a hold of you and your child.
From 2013 to 2015 there has been an increase of smartphone usage of 28%. With 91% of teens go online from mobile devices, 94% of them go on daily. Because of this, parents need to realize what their teen can access on a smartphone with the internet and apps, and can help their teens (and themselves) stay safe on the phone:
- Pay attention to the apps your child uses. There are many type of "free chat room" apps that let them talk to strangers.
- Get active with your child’s smartphone usage by using one yourself.
- Most phone companies will let you set controls to the data usage for certain phones, letting you limit where your child can access the internet on their phones.
- Whether it’s the phone or the computer, always be aware of what you are posting online; what you post on the internet never truly goes away!
Smartphones use "Apps". Short for "Applications", different platforms require different apps. Two of the largest app stores, Apple and Google Play, have a combined total of 2.9 million apps and counting. Because of this it can be hard figuring out all of the different apps. Here are some brief explanations of the popular ones your child may be using.
The Facebook app is essentially the mobile version the social networking site Facebook. People can post photos, comments, and more to others. Be aware of what your child posts and what their security settings are on Facebook. Make sure strangers can’t see their information and that they only are friends with people they know.
Instagram is a social networking site that focuses on posting pictures. Users can post almost anything (within the rules) for people to follow them and see. Reminding your teens not to post pictures with addresses and personal info can help protect them.
Reddit is a news and entertainment social networking where registered members can submit different content for different topics in a bulletin board style layout. There are over 8,000 active topics on everything you can think of. Because of this, there can be inappropriate ones. Always check which boards your teen goes on to makes sure they don’t post the wrong thing.
Skype is a webcam app that requires at least a free account. Users create a screen name can put as much information about themselves as they want, and even lie about it. They can then text chat, mic chat, and video chat with friends. Make sure your teen only accepts friend requests from users they know and to not send personal and inappropriate content to others.
SnapChat is a free app that is designed to send personal pictures, video clips, and even chat to other users that last no more than 15 seconds on the screen. This is a huge tool for people to send inappropriate pictures and tell personal info to others because they "can’t save them." Unfortunately, there are many ways to pull the pictures and clips sent from this app to keep. Warn your teens the dangers of sending inappropriate content and that anything online can be for the world to see.
Just like the Facebook App, The Twitter App is the mobile version of the website Twitter.com. "Tweets" are 140 character blurbs that can be sent out for the world to see. Encourage your teen not to send out private information or inappropriate content.