Quick Tip Guide to Kids' Social and Mobile Privacy
You can’t always keep track of what your children are doing online. For the most part it will be harmless fun, but there’s always the danger that they could stumble into areas they shouldn’t without realizing. Unfortunately, those areas can be the most innocent-seeming ones, such as social networking or mobile apps.
You can have the usual parent-child conversations about not chatting to strangers and not revealing too much about themselves, but sometimes the apps take matters into their own hands and give away more than they should. Check out these quick steps you can take to make social networking and mobile habits safer for children.
The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure these apps aren’t broadcasting anything they shouldn’t be. Go into the apps themselves and find the privacy section of the settings menu, and go through it option by option. Facebook, for example, has an option to prevent strangers from messaging you or sending friend requests, or even from seeing posts you’ve shared with friends. There’s also a very useful option to prevent your profile from appearing in Google searches.
Some apps like to share information on your profile when you do other, seemingly unrelated things, so be careful when you “connect” these apps with your Facebook or Twitter account. Good ones will state clearly that they’ll never post on your behalf; for less well-known or respected apps, consider whether you want to be giving them access to social media accounts at all.
Another thing social networks like to do is personalize your status updates with a live location taken from the phone’s GPS, and indeed some hugely popular apps such are built entirely around this concept. Tagging photos with a location can be fun for kids, but it’s problematic for parents who’d rather their precise whereabouts weren’t broadcast to the world. To avoid this, go into the phone’s settings menu and disable location services – you can do so just for a specific app if you don’t want to mess up the location tools in Maps and other genuinely useful apps.
A simple way to add an extra layer of safety to the entire phone is to enable the parental controls. In iOS it’s under General, Restrictions and in Android it’s in the Play Store under User Controls. Just pick an age range and enable a PIN code, and you can lock off unsuitable areas of the app store or even prevent new apps from being installed. You can also block adult sites in the web browser, although none of these filters is a replacement for talking to your children about what they do online.
Finally, for added peace of mind, try Norton Mobile Security to make sure the apps your children use and the sites they visit don’t leave their smartphones exposed to hackers and thieves.
For more online security tips and free tools, check out Norton Online Family.