Youth and smartphones: Important tips for safety

Technology becomes more and more advanced every day. The cell phones once used to place phone calls are now capable of so much more. Read on to find out what parents should know in order to keep their child safe if they have a smartphone.

Smartphones are cell phones that connect users to the Internet and have built-in applications. Not only do they allow individuals to make calls, but they can also send text messages, take photos, connect with social media sites, create and watch videos and do much more. Smartphones provide the opportunity for users to access everything they would want online without the need for a computer.

While access to technology from anywhere opens up a world of possibilities, it can also leave users vulnerable if they aren’t aware of the risks. Teenaged smartphone users can be at increased risk of danger because their brains haven’t fully developed to allow them to consider possible consequences of their actions. This article will explore teen smartphone use and share ideas for parents on keeping their children safe.

According to a survey by Pew Internet, nearly 25 percent of teens age 12 to 17 own a smartphone. The study found no differences in smartphone ownership by race, income or ethnicity. Teens who use smartphones were less likely to use a computer to go online than teens who used regular phones. This is an especially important fact for parents to know because the portability of smartphones allows teens to access the Internet and web applications while not under direct supervision. It’s critical for parents to help their teens learn to protect themselves.

Researchers at North Dakota State University recommend looking at the ratings of apps before downloading to help determine if it’s safe. Additionally, they suggest keeping the phone’s Bluetooth technology and automatic wireless internet connections turned off when in public because of hacker risk.

Smartphones come equipped with global positioning systems (GPS) technology that can determine their exact location. Geo-location applications like Foursquare and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter allow users to “check in” at places and see where their friends are. The previously mentioned survey indicated that 18 percent of smartphone users had used these location-based applications from their smartphones. Parents might consider turning off their child’s GPS to keep their location private from strangers. Disabling geo-tagging isn’t difficult and can prevent unwanted collection of additional data about the smartphone user.

By following this advice, parents can do more to protect their children while also helping them build technology literacy for the future.

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