Mobile technology offers real benefits to teens, but carrying a smartphone also poses some security risks. As parents, you want to assess these risks and set appropriate guidelines. Fortunately, there are lots of great tools and resources designed to make the job easier.
Most kids will want to use their smartphones not only for phone calls, but also video chats using services such as Google Hangouts. They’ll also want to text their friends, browse the web and use social networks like Facebook® and Twitter. In addition, many popular Android smartphone apps such as Instagram and casual games such as Clash of Clans are interactive, and enable users to play anonymous opponents—something parents may want their teenager to avoid.
Fortunately, Verizon Family Safeguards & Controls enables you to block spam, calls and texts, as well as set content filters on your kid’s phone. These services are free, as is your ability to block web services and apps.
With Verizon FamilyBase™, you can monitor when, how and with whom your kids communicate, as well as set limits on voice, data and text usage. Plus, you can set time restrictions or remotely lock your kid’s device. Other Verizon safeguards allow you to control viruses, or even locate family members from your computer and other devices.
Verizon’s security offerings are designed to protect Generation Z while using their smartphones, and to equip you with as much control as you want over your kid’s device. In addition, using Verizon’s suite of security options is convenient—one-stop shopping, so to speak.
That said, you might want to explore some other apps and security services. There are countless possibilities, so it pays to do some research before purchasing or installing. Net Nanny and Symantec are two well-established security and web-filtering companies that offer Android software. In addition, there are a variety of Android web browsers that enable you to control your teen’s Internet activities, such as the Ranger Pro Safe Browser.
Technological fixes and controls can provide smartphone security, but they’re not always sufficient. Tech-savvy teens may be able to circumvent some of the safeguards implemented by parents. In addition, other potential dangers, such as cyberbullying, require good parent–child communication more than anything else.
For this reason, Verizon Wireless supports the Family Online Safety Institute’s Good Digital Parenting website, which provides information for parents, teachers and teens on how to be a responsible, positive online citizen. It shows what risks parents should be aware of and how to deal with them. The site also includes many resources that focus on the positive aspects of online safety, such as activities and checklists that encourage teens to think about being cautious as they surf. Also a great resource, NetSmartz provides a variety of tip sheets and outlines on how you can discuss Internet behavior and security topics with your adolescent.
As with driving, while it’s crucial for you to do as much as possible to protect your teen from potential dangers, it’s also important to recognize that a smartphone’s benefits can far outweigh potential hazards, when used wisely. As a well-informed parent, there’s a lot you can do to ensure that your kids have fun with their Verizon smartphone—while protecting them at the same time.