Schools are out, the kids are at home and if they're allowed, 99% of them would be glued to their phones for at least half of every day! Whilst it's tempting to assume that the phone is keeping them out of mischief, it's also right to assume that it could be tempting them into mischief! Here are some quick tips to help you help them stay safe over the holidays (and beyond).
1. BE AWARE AND BE PRAGMATIC.
If your child has access to a mobile device that connects to the internet, they will see images of an adult nature, they will interact with people they don't know, and they will post images that you think are inappropriate. Filters, apps, privacy settings and safety features will mitigate risk considerably, but ultimately you're letting your child connect to billions of people, sometimes anonymously.
2. LET THEM KNOW THAT YOU WANT TO KEEP THEM SAFE.
Most children and teenagers will react the same way when you broach the subject of their phone or tablet. It's mine, it's private, none of your business etc. Let them know that you want to talk about safety and privacy, not control.
3. TALK TO THEM ABOUT LEGAL IMPLICATIONS
Unless your child has bought the phone themselves, has it registered in their own name, and pays the bills, then the phone is your property. This means that you, the adult, are responsible for what comes into AND goes out of the device.
4. SET CLEAR GUIDELINES
Decide what is and is not appropriate behaviour for your child. These guidelines should include when and where they can use the device, which apps they're allowed to use, who they can and can't interact with.
5. MAKE SURE YOU KNOW ALL OF THEIR PASSWORDS AND ACCESS CODES
Would you let your son or daughter lock their room and never allow you in? The phone should be exactly the same. Make it a condition of having the device. It doesn't mean you'll be checking the phone every 10 mins.
6. KNOW YOUR (THEIR) APPS
Do you know what each and every app on your child's device does? If not, you definitely should. Take a quick look here to see our 4 most 'risky' apps for kids and teenagers. If you don't know what a particular apps is for, and would like some free help and advice, you can get in touch with us at any time!
7. TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT ONLINE PRIVACY
The phone can feel like a very private part of a child's life, and a safe place to communicate with their group of friends and peers. But nothing online is ever private and teaching your children this will help stop them making potentially damaging mistakes as they grow older.
8. SET THE SAFETY AND PRIVACY SETTINGS YOURSELF
Most devices and apps have simple but effective safety and privacy settings. Even seemingly safe and popular apps like musical.ly have privacy settings that you should know how to activate. Our digital safety library contains video tutorials to help guide you through the most popular apps.
9. TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT ONLINE 'STRANGER DANGER'
We teach our children about the dangers of talking to people they don't know in real life - we should be doing the same for online 'friends' and followers. There is absolutely no reason your child should be in contact with someone online that they have never met in real life - and they should never agree to meet someone in real life that they have met online.
10. TURN ON LOCATION SERVICES
This is a tough one, as it can seem like you're trying to spy on your child - which you most definitely aren't! For simple peace of mind, it's very reassuring to know that you can find out where your child is should something bad happen. It's also a great way to get them to come home on time! Just make sure you have the access details.
11. KEEP THE PHONES OUT OF THE BEDROOM AT NIGHT
Even though it's the holidays, there's no reason for a child to be online, unsupervised, in their bedroom at 11pm at night. If you're going to encounter sexting problems and bullying issues, this is when they'll occur.
12. WARN THEM ABOUT OVER-SHARING.
It's part of teenage life these days, but in many cases oversharing can have very long lasting repercussions. Talk to your children about what is ok and what is not ok to share, but make sure you see it from their point of view too!
You might decide that they have a small group of friends on social media, and that you're happy for them to post holiday snaps. Or, you might see that that they have 1000 followers on Instagram (your child does not know 1000 people) so posting bikini shots isn't something you want to allow. Remember, 90% of posted images are shared onwards.
If you do decide to check their device, you might see photos that shock you, bad language and adult content - especially if you have a teenager. So before you check, decide how you'll react and definitely don't over-react!