Thu. Dec 12th, 2019

Just checking: Five ways to protect your child while they use a smartphone

Children using mobile phoneKnow the risks involved with your child having a smartphone.

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Nowadays, most parents want their child to have a cellphone so they can stay in contact when they are out, make sure they are safe at all times and have a means of communication in case of an emergency.

But like anything, there are always associated risks and you never know if your children may fall prey to online predators, risk seeing adult content or may even flat out lie to you about where they are. We have compiled some great ways to mitigate these risks and protect your children’s safety:

  • Smartphone parental control settings: Both iPhones and Androids have highly sophisticated parental control settings that can curb what your child accesses on their phone. Android phones have Kids Mode that allows parents to limit the usage and content they can access. You can also set a PIN code so your kids cannot disable it. For iPhones, go to Settings and enable Restrictions using your own passcode. This allows you to place limitations on apps, content and usage.
  • Download a parental control app: While built-in parental control settings will take you so far, it is difficult to monitor your child’s activity on the phone or whereabouts. To give you complete peace of mind, you may want to consider downloading a parental control app that allows you to take full control over your child’s security. This is can be useful as you have all the safety measures you need in one place.
  • Activate cellular provider controls: Most cellular providers have security measures parents can access. For example, Vodacom offers a free parental control app called “Vodafone Guardian”. This allows parents to protect their children against inappropriate content, restricts communication to and from certain numbers and only allows cellphone use within certain timeframes. Other networks such as MTN, offer a parental control service which requires you to dial *101# from your child’s handset, select the content you would like to restrict and secure your choice with a PIN number.
  • Add buying restrictions: This has the benefit of protecting your child and your bank balance at the same time. It works by activating buying restrictions to prevent your child from downloading apps. This may be apps that are not age appropriate or violent games you don’t want your child playing. In an Android phone, go to the settings in the Google Play Store app and select “Require authentication for purchases”. If they have an iPhone, go to your Settings app, scroll to “General” and click “Restrictions”.
  • Talk to your children: Have the talk with your children and explain to them there are dangers when using a mobile phone. Set clear boundaries for how much they are allowed to use their mobile phone and when they are allowed to use it. This creates an open understanding and will help to build trust in your relationship.           

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