Kids and Smartphones: How to Stay Safe

For many parents, the safety reasons for allowing children to have a cellphone are so compelling that they far outweigh the risks. That doesn't mean there aren't risks, however. Let's review:

Risk: Sky-high phone bills. Whether it's from obsessive texting, constant Web surfing, or app-buying sprees, mobile phones give children plenty of opportunities to separate children from their (or their parents') money.
Solution: Check your data and text plan to see if it's at a limit you and your child can live with. Many providers now offer the ability to set hours during which the phone can be used or limit amounts of phone-based purchases.

Risk: An impulsive decision can be recorded forever. A cell phone can get lost, texts can get forwarded, and suddenly a child's private offhand remark—or risqué photo—can become public information. Or, that Facebook post made in the heat of an argument turns into a nasty case of bullying with hurt feelings all around.
Solution: Remind your child that they shouldn't post or text anything privately that they wouldn't share publicly. If they're in the middle of an argument and emotions are running high, require them to cool down for 24 hours before they post about anything. Or use parental controls like Trend Miro™ Online Guardian for Families to view what you're kids are posting via their cellphone.

Risk: Location-based services make it easy for you to track your child's phone so that you know where your kids are (or, if they lose their phone, you can at least increase your chances of finding it again). However, this opens the door to other people finding out where your child is, and they may not all have good intentions.
Solution: Don't let your child use location-based social networking services that broadcast your child's whereabouts over the Internet when they "check in" to participating locations. And use a GPS application that lets you maintain your privacy so you can share your physical location only with people you know.

Risk: A smartphone is just a small computer with a phone component—and like any computer, it can fall prey to viruses and malware.
Solution: Use a security application to protect your personal information from being stolen, such as Trend Micro™ Smart Surfing for iPhone or Trend Micro™ Mobile Security Personal Edition for Android™.

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