Getting Smart About Smartphones
Tips for Parents
You can guide your children (and their friends!) in the safer use of smartphones. This straight-talk information sheet will get you started.
Please remember, your children learn the most from watching you. Visit Getting Smart About Smartphones and build strong safety skills today.
Setting the “Rules”
Have regular conversations about smartphone safety with your kids. When you learn something new about settings or apps, share it with them. Invite them to share their discoveries with you. At the same time, set some rules for your child’s smartphone use.
- Rule 1: Your phone is a computer – protect it from thieves and from hackers.
- Rule 2: Do not respond to texts or other messages that ask for your personal information. Your personal information includes your age, your address, your school, and your location.
- Rule 3: Do not download “free” games, screen savers, or other files without checking with your parents. These can carry malware that can take information from your phone, including pictures and your friends’ contact information.
- Rule 4: Do not open an attachment or click on a link in an email or text message if you are not sure what it is or who sent it. The attachment or link might also have a “virus” that puts bugs in your phone.
Apps can extract personal information from smartphones.
You can stop personal information leaks and give your children more safety skills at the same time. Look at the smartphone together and weed out apps that are not clear about their privacy practices.
- In the app store/platform, read reviews of apps app to see if there are any known issues or concerns.
- Common Sense Media rates apps for age-appropriateness. They also provide information on privacy and security.
- You can take some control over your child’s access to mobile apps.
- If you have an Apple device such as an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, use the Restrictions settings. Go to Settings, then General and click on Restrictions. This lets parents prevent kids from installing or deleting apps, making in-app purchases, and accessing the Internet and certain other features.
- If you use an Android phone, consider using an app blocker to stop children from using apps without your permission.
- For apps in the Microsoft Windows store: Look for a link labeled “Report app to Microsoft” or “Report concern to Microsoft.”
- For apps in the Apple AppStore: Go to www.apple.com/privacy/contact/.
- For apps in GooglePlay: Visit the app’s description page to “Flag as inappropriate” or go to https://support.google.com/ googleplay/android-developer/contact/takedown.
- For apps in BlackBerry World: Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Report to the California Attorney General: www.oag.ca.gov/contact/consumer-complaint-against-business-or-company
For More Information
App Blockers: NetNanny, available at www.netnanny.com/mobile, AppLock and Smart AppLock, both available in the GooglePlay store.
App Reviews, Common Sense Media, available at www.commonsensemedia.org/app-reviews
“Kids’ Privacy: Know Your COPPA Rights,” Federal Trade Commission, available at www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0031-kids-privacy
“Net Cetera: Chatting with Kids About Being Online,” Federal Trade Commission, available at www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/pdf-0001.pdf.
Smartphone Security Checker, Federal Communications Commission, www.fcc.gov/smartphone-security
“How to Remotely Disable Your Lost or Stolen Phone,” PC Magazine (April 2012), available at www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2352755,00.asp.
1 The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act also gives parents the right to review information collected from their children under 13. For more on the law, see www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0031-kids-privacy..
2 The California Online Privacy Protection Act, Business and Professions Code §§ 22575-22579.