One thing’s for sure: kids love playing with phones. And who can blame them? Phones are a perfect size for kids’ tiny hands, have thousands of kid-friendly apps that facilitate learning and fun and parents pay a lot of attention them, a sure way to make kids interested.
That’s why it’s important to know what sort of damage your child can do on your phone before you hand it to them. Child-proofing your phone is possible, especially if you think about these five important phone safety topics ahead of time.
1. Beware of explicit content
One of the top concerns parents have when they hand kids a phone is that their children could possibly be exposed to inappropriate content. Parent’s are in luck, there are several ways to enable content filtering on both the iPhone and on Android devices.
For additional iPhone security, parents can enable restrictions that keep children from accessing specific applications, and turn on age-appropriate content filter restrictions that can keep mature content off your iPhone while your children are using it.
On Android devices you can protect your device by setting up a pass code or consider downloading one of the applications we suggest in this article to control the content your child is exposed to. Age appropriate app filters are located in the Android Market under settings.
2. Disable in-app purchases
Another phone security concern when children play with iPhones or Androids is that they could potentially run up expensive bills by making in-app purchases. To avoid accidental in-app purchases it is wise to closely monitor the apps your child plays. Many kid-friendly iPhone and Android apps do not have in-app purchases. For those that do, you can disable in-app purchases on both platforms. On the iPhone it’s a simple matter of accessing the Restrictions menu, while on Android you would adjust download settings from the Android Market. Turning on AirPlane mode is another way to avoid any accidental over-the-air iPhone purchases. If there’s no data connection, your child cannot make a purchase.
3. App store security
For a bit of added protection, you can actually set up phone security settings right from the app store. In iTunes Parental controls are located in the preferences menu in iTunes, accessible under the iTunes menu on a Mac or the Edit menu on a PC. Once this page is launched you can set up content restrictions, disable podcasts and radio, and limit access to shared libraries and the iTunes store for any iOS device hooked up to a specific iTunes user ID.
4. Make sure to have physical protection
Even if it’s your child’s favorite play thing, do not forget that your smartphone is an expensive piece of electronic equipment. Excessive physical strain on an iPhone or Android device by an enthusiastic child could very well break that pricy, shiny toy, and no one wants that. Consider investing in a rugged case if your child frequently plays with your device. Otterbox cases are a popular choice. So is the Survivor case series for iPhone and other smartphones, which is made of a shatter-resistant polycarbonate material, along with sock resistant silicone. For toddlers, try the iCan Play Case from Fisher Price or the BubCap home button cover to avoid physical strain.
5. Protect your apps
You may not mind letting your child access your apps, but it’s pretty frustrating when an app you use goes missing. All too often kids with iPhones accidentally delete apps. Anther trip to the Restrictions menu is an easy fix. iPhones with iOS 4.2 or later have an option to disable the ability to install and delete applications. Simply toggle that iPhone security setting to “Off” once restrictions are enabled, and you’re good to go. Setting up an Android Market pass code will have the same effect.
6. Talk to your child
With many children, setting clear expectations and guidelines about what they can and cannot do on your phone can help them avoid making mistakes. Now that you know what security risks are out there, use this article as a guide to have a frank conversation about your phone security. Slap on some content filters and make sure your volume is turned up. When in doubt, monitor their usage.