Any internet-connected device, whether it’s a computer, tablet, or smartwatch, is vulnerable to cyber-attacks. But mobile phones—devices that track your precise location and contain vast amounts of personal information, photos, and contacts—pose an even bigger risk.
As parents, we want to protect our kids from online threats. But for most moms and dads, it’s impossible to supervise every second of online activity —not to mention on mobile phones where tech-savvy teens can delete their texts and hide their browsing history.
Eventually, we have to let our children learn to protect themselves and make responsible choices about their online security when we’re not around. But aside from setting rules and talking to your kids about online safety, you can make use of built-in features and downloadable tools on their phones for extra reassurance.
Restrict Access to Questionable Content
Most phones enable parents to password-protect features that can restrict access to websites, require permission to download apps or make in-app purchases, and block calls and texts from certain numbers. These features are great for preventing your kids from visiting sites with questionable content or going overboard in the app store, but they also limit access to less-than-legit sites that are laden with malware. Learn how to turn on restrictions on Apple devices here. For Android devices, go here.
Password Protect Your Devices
It goes without saying that every device in your household should be set to “lock” automatically once it’s turned off. While it sounds obvious enough, some people opt to forego password protection on shared devices and those primarily used by young children. Just remember, without password protection, if your device is lost and someone happens to pick it up, they not only have access to your contacts and your photos—they have access to any personal accounts (think Amazon or Facebook) that auto-fill your login information.
Keep Software Updated
Operating systems and apps continuously release updates to their software. Sometimes the updates are meant to fix glitches or improve user experience, but you’d be surprised how often those updates include bug fixes and security upgrades. Never skip an update! Make sure your phone is set to send notifications when updates become available, and teach young children how to identify these alerts.
Install Security/Privacy Software
If you’re looking for a more streamlined approach to monitoring your kids’ online activity AND protecting your private information, try installing a security app. There are a variety of providers like Norton Family and ESET that offer subscriptions that work across all your devices. They do a great job of filtering suspicious or inappropriate content, but they do an even better job of keeping track of your child’s online activity, as well as their calls, texts and app usage. As an added bonus, some apps even allow you to limit time spent on certain apps.
How do you protect your kids on their mobile devices? Share some of your tips and tricks by commenting below!