With technology going the way it is, it may not be long before every newborn is given a free smartphone by Google upon their birth, and automatically signed up to Facebook by a bot when their birth certificate is created. As of right now, if you’re buying a smartphone for your child for birthdays, graduation, Christmas, or any other special occasion, you need to help protect them.
Smartphone security for kids is becoming more important as hackers look to exploit anyone they can. Most of the time, they won’t know if they’re stealing from a 55 year old man, or a 15 year old girl. They just take the data and use it. You have to take responsibility, and this article will show you the way.
Smartphone security consideration for children: General
Your first goal should be to protect your child’s overall experience online. Look at how your child is primarily going to use their phone: Through WiFi. They’ll be doing this at school (during lunch and breaks!) on public WiFi connections.
The problem here that should be at the top of your priority list is how dangerous public WiFi is. This may be your child’s most vulnerable moment online as you can never, ever, trust public WiFi. Man in the middle attacks happen more often than you’ll ever know.
To combat this you need a encryption, and the easiest way to get encryption is through a
Other basis steps to take include:
- Make sure that the phone always uses a screen lock password. The most basic of all security measures is making sure that access via theft is limited.
- Installing a reliable anti-virus program. This will prevent spyware from taking over your child’s smartphone.
- Installing the Google Safe Search bar to filter out explicit content which can be found entirely by accident. Don’t believe me? Google ANY random word and look through the photos. How long until you saw naked people?
- As it has always been, don’t talk to strangers if you don’t have to. And never, ever meet anyone you know from online.
All of these smartphone security measures should be put in place on your child’s smartphone at all times.
Basic Facebook safety measures
- Only accept friend requests from classmates and people you know in real life.
- Opt out of the facial tagging as this can be used to connect your child’s account to many others.
- Follow the basic Facebook privacy setting recommendation in this article.
- Periodically look on Facebook Privacy Watcher to monitor what your child’s sharing easily.
If you didn’t read the article I linked to on Facebook Privacy, please take the time to turn off all location sharing on Facebook. A stalker with a bit of hacking skills can use this easily, and be sure to make sure your child knows not to say in a post where they are.
You also need to let your children know that these seemingly harmless ‘quizzes’, like “Which 90s sitcom character are you?!?’ are not actually just for fun. They suck up personal information which can be stolen by a hacker.
Twitter security measures
Twitter is much, much more public a space than Facebook. The difference is that while Facebook is mostly private to friends, Twitter goes to everyone on Twitter. With Google indexing tweets now you can even say that anyone anywhere can find any tweet.
Twitter has helpful guidelines for keeping your child’s tweets private. The main difference is the use of public or protected tweets.
A useful app you may want to look into is Minor Monitor. It works for both Facebook and Twitter. It’s main focus is to help you protect your child from cyberbullying, and online predators. If the app detects anything dangerous, it sends you an automated report.
Instagram security measures
Honestly, Instagram is a nightmare because of online predators. They see what your child looks like, and they can take screenshots of them for their own nefarious purposes. Believe me, I worked closely with police on child predator cases and they love to have GBs of nothing but photos of kids pulled from the Internet.
Change your child’s Instagram account from public to private by:
- Go to the Settings tab.
- Switch to Private Account.
That’s it. Two steps to vastly increase your child’s privacy on their smartphone and Instagram. Now each new follower of your child’s account has to be approved by them. Make sure that they know to only let their friends follow them.
Protecting your child’s new smartphone
You don’t have to be a hacker to know how to increase the online security of your child’s smartphone. There are apps that have already been made, and security measures have been put in place by social media sites. Be sure to use them, monitor what’s going on, and always speak to your children about their online experience.
Feature image via David Molina / Shutterstock