Yesterday I hosted AVG’s Twitter Chat on Mobile Family Safety and what an experience! After a few hiccups related to Twitter’s outages, we were able to dive deep into discussions around awareness, behavior and appropriate solutions to help protect kids from mobile devices and the mobile web.
The conclusion? It’s not just kids that we need to educate about safe browsing habits, but parents alike. @TechEPC noted that most kids nowadays know more about tech than their parents. That’s why we need to become aware of how our kids are engaging online so that we know how to talk to them about practicing safe mobile habits.
The large number of retweets indicated that many attendees were surprised that so many 10-13 year olds (43%) were texting for more than two hours a day. They were also surprised to hear that 60 percent of 12-17 year-olds sleep with their mobile phones. Though it’s clear that our kids know how to use smartphones and are spending a lot of time with them (perhaps unsupervised), that doesn’t mean they know how to use them responsibly.
“I know 10 year-olds with Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook,” said @mishu7. “It’s too much. When they have their own devices to check everything they are really vulnerable.”
She has a point. It’s not just the usage of the phone, but the apps that are downloaded. Many connected devices nowadays have GPS functionality, which can give away a child’s location if the feature isn’t turned off.
@TechEPC also made an excellent point, “There is also the risk of “old school” bullying if you don’t have a mobile device when all the other kids do.”
So what can be done?
Good parenting is a must – with rules on when and where the phone goes. @sportstermartin suggested smartphones should stay downstairs charging while kids are in bed. Meanwhile, AVG’s @jillhunley said she uses a “phone basket” to collect all phones before bedtime.
I would also suggest that parents adopt a smartphone safety policy for their household. The policy will become handy the next time you hand your phone to your child, or bite the bullet and purchase a smartphone for them.
Finally, for those who were not able to join, what are your concerns around safe mobile browsing? Send me a tweet or let’s talk on Facebook.