With a whole host of potential dangers, many parents find buying their child their first phone a daunting prospect.
The average age children get their first phone is just 10 years old*, so it is best to educate them on the potential dangers that come with a phone from a young age. According to Internet Matters**, a not for profit internet safety organisation, three quarters (75%) of parents with children under 10 want to learn more about how to keep their child safe and the issues they might face online.
With this in mind, online smartphone retailer, Envirofone, has put together it’s top five tips for how to keep your child safe on their mobile phone.
Which phone to choose?
There are two types of phones on the market:
Feature phones are very simple and only used to make calls and send texts. The features are basic and typically don’t include internet access or a camera, making it a good choice for young children. The prices range from £5 - £50.
Smartphones have an abundance of features, including app stores with access to social media platforms such as Facebook and interactive games. Smartphones have internet access, colour touchscreen and a camera. These more advanced models are better suited to older children. Typically, these are much more expensive, ranging from £50 - £500.
If you opt for a smartphone with internet access, you can still protect your child by restricting their access. The news has made us aware of how vulnerable children can be with access to unmonitored chat rooms, violence or indecency on the web, so if you’re worried about this, content can be restricted on home Wi-Fi boxes by using parental controls to block unsuitable content.
When outside of the home, Wi-Fi hot spots and public Wi-Fi do not have any restrictions. If this is a serious concern for you, a feature phone might be the better option.
Remember to talk
As much as you try to protect your children online, they may find ways around parental settings, e.g by using public Wi-Fi. In this instance, it’s important for children to be able to communicate with us about their experiences online, for example if anything is alarming to them, they are being bullied or they want advice. Try to discuss with them the use of safety features and ensure they understand the reasons for using them.
Ensure that they know people are not always who they say they are, and that they should never to talk to anyone they don’t know. Teach them never to reveal any personal information online and educate them into understanding everything on the internet is permanent, and nothing private, so they must think carefully before sharing any photographs, even with people they know.
Cut off time
The thought of having a mobile phone and the endless games, apps and websites that can be accessed through it can be very stimulating for children, leaving it very easy for them to get carried away. To overcome this, set time limits for activities such as playing games and internet browsing. Phone usage has been linked to disruptive sleep patterns and with sleep being so important for children’s physical and mental growth, take control of their device at least an hour before bedtime, giving them time to wind down.
There are many helpful solutions to keep children protected online. Child safety ‘locks’ are available to download as apps for mobile devices. Free parental control apps such as Parent Control & Kid Tracker allow you to block and monitor incoming calls and texts, as well as set time restrictions to limit their use and keep track of their location. Similar apps include Qustodio Parental Control and GeoZilla, both available to download for free in the App Store and Google Play.
Denise Timmis, Head of Online at Envirofone, said: “As an online retailer, we see many parents looking to purchase their child’s first phone from us due to our reasonable pricing with a 12-month warranty and no contracts.
“It’s so important to educate your children on the potential dangers of internet browsing and choose the right phone with adequate safety features on to be able to explore the wonders of the internet safely.”
If you’re looking to buy your child’s first smartphone, visit https://www.envirofone.com/en-gb.