Mobile phones are great for helping children keep in touch with friends and family. They can also be a useful learning tool and provide a source of entertainment for kids. However, if your child does have a phone, talking about mobile phone safety is important.
While they do deliver a lot of benefits, mobile phones can also expose children to a variety of risks. If you’re concerned, there are some things you can do to ensure your child can use their device responsibly.
Here, you’ll discover some advice about what age children can have a phone, the potential risks they pose, and how to keep your child safe.
What age should a child have a phone?
In the UK, the average age for a child to have a phone is 11. However, it’s not uncommon for primary school age children to have their own device. There is no set age limit as to when children should have a phone. So, as a parent, you need to decide when you think your child is ready for that level of responsibility.
To help you decide when the right time is to introduce your children to mobile phones, it’s worth learning about the potential risks they face.
What are the risks?
If you want to protect your child, you need to teach them about the potential risks of using a mobile device, and how they can keep themselves safe.
Some of the main issues that children are exposed to on their phones include:
- Making in-app purchases
- Easy access to inappropriate content
- Excessive screen time
- Sharing personal details
Talking about these risks means that you and your child can take appropriate measures to ensure they’re using their device safely.
Should I set up parental controls?
Parental controls can be effective at minimising the dangers your child is exposed to on their phone. They allow you to restrict certain websites and adult content, as well as limit your child’s screen time.
All smartphones come with some level of parental controls built in that you can utilise (find out more information on how to set up parental controls on iPhone). However, you can also invest in parental control apps and apps to monitor your kid’s mobile phone usage for both Apple and Android devices. These often come at a small cost, but they can provide great peace of mind.
Talk to your child about phone safety
One of the best ways to keep your child safe on their mobile phone is to talk to them about it. Explain the potential risks and how they can protect themselves. Ask them if they have any questions about mobile phone safety. Having an open and honest conversation will ensure if they do feel unsafe or something unexpected happens, they feel comfortable coming to you for help.
5 tips to keep your child’s phone safe
While talking to your child about the potential dangers of their phone is the best way to protect them, there are some steps you can take to boost their security. Here are 5 ways to keep your child’s phone safe and secure.
1. Make sure it has a password/passcode
One of the simplest ways to keep your child’s phone safe is to set a password or passcode. This will prevent any of your child’s data from being compromised if the phone is lost or stolen. Ensure they know not to give anybody else their password, and help them choose a password they will remember.
2. Monitor social media use
All parents would like extra reassurance that their child isn’t talking to strangers on their phone. Monitoring their social media use is one way to do this. You don’t need to read all of their messages, just make sure you know who they are adding to their list of friends. Check the age limits of the social media platforms that your kids are using and make sure that their accounts are set to private for maximum safety.
3. Ensure it is protected with security software
Is the phone protected with security software? It’s a good idea to install anti-virus software at the very least. This helps to protect the phone from phishing attacks and malware. You can also set up a VPN, so your child’s location and IP address are hidden when they browse the internet.
4. Teach your children not to answer calls or texts from unknown numbers
Spam calls can be a real problem, and the last thing you want is for strangers to be calling and harassing your children. Firstly, explain to your child why they should be careful when filling out their personal information online. Phone numbers can be sold and used for marketing and scam purposes. Then, teach them not to answer any calls or texts from unknown numbers or from people they don’t know. If spam calls become a problem, you can block them via the device’s settings to prevent any further nuisance.
5. Set clear boundaries
It can really help if you set clear boundaries on how your child can and can’t use their phone. Are there any screen time limits you want to set? Are there any rules your child needs to follow on social media? Giving them rules to follow can help to keep them safer while using their phone. However, make sure you don’t set rules that are too strict. If they are, your child is likely to find ways to get around them.
These are 5 of the best tips you can follow to keep your child safe on their mobile phone. Setting up parental controls is a particularly effective way of ensuring your child sticks to their boundaries.
As well as using the phone’s actual parental controls, don’t forget you can set spending rules and limits on your child’s GoHenry account to ensure they’re spending money safely, too.
Find out more about GoHenry’s parental controls
A GoHenry prepaid debit card comes with a feature-packed app. Here, you can set up parental controls to manage your child’s spending rules and limits. Choose to set weekly spending limits, alongside individual transaction limits.
To boost your child’s financial education while keeping them safe from overspending, sign up for a GoHenry account today.