1. Know the latest school policies
Every school is different, but most of them allow students to bring mobile devices to class as long as they turn them off during learning time. This one might sound like a no brainer, but make sure you check with your child’s school and find out about their official policy for phones in the classroom. It is important that your child knows about the latest rules because schools can take their cell phone from them when they have reasonable suspicion that it has been involved in some violation of school policy or the law.
Some students have been known to abuse their smartphones at school. Make sure they know not to use the phone for outrageous things like cheating, taking pictures of kids without permission, and harassing teachers while filming it. Some abuses of phone privileges have serious consequences, and all the evidence is stored in the device.
2. Setup a lock screen PIN or swipe pattern
This is something that all smartphone owners should do, but it’s especially important for children. As adults we often keep our smartphone in our pocket or purse, but kids at school might be forced to leave their mobile device in their backpack, cubby hole, or locker where another student might have easier access to it.
When I was young, I would always hop on my brother’s computer when he wasn’t looking and change his wallpaper to something embarrassing as a joke. Today a child might take someone else’s phone and post inappropriate updates to their social networks. Make sure your child keeps his phone locked so others can’t use it without his permission.
3. Talk to your children about privacy when using mobile apps
A recent report from the Pew Research Center shows that although teenagers 12 to 17 tend to manage their privacy settings themselves, the majority (71%) have sought outside advice at some point. The most popular group that teens get security tips from was their peers (42%), but parents came in a close second (41%) when they seek help.
“At first, the finding that 41% of online teens have asked for advice about online privacy from a parent seems surprising — particularly given that many teens are motivated to protect their privacy specifically from their parents,” Amanda Lenhart, the study’s lead author, told Mashable. “But for a subset of teens, often younger ones, their parents were heavily involved in helping them set up their social media accounts (often as a precondition to use) and so it’s not so surprising that those teens would be seeking advice from their parents.”
Your kids are going to download apps if they have smartphones, so you might as well help them out and discuss any privacy concerns they might have. Are they aware they are broadcasting their location to others? Do they know that Snapchat pictures can be saved by others? Does every picture they take get automatically uploaded to a cloud service? These are things you should know and talk openly about. Make sure your children realize they can’t believe everything they see on their mobile device, nothing is private, and everything they post online can be permanent.
4. Keep it charged at all times
What good is a mobile phone if the battery is dead? Your child might leave for school with a fully charged phone, but it could end up dead at the end of the day when they really need to call you. In case of emergencies, provide your child with an extra battery or a portable battery. These can be purchased from most big box retail stores for $20-30 and are a real life saver in emergency situations.
5. Use parental control software
If your child is still learning the ropes of their new smartphone, or you don’t trust them to obey the school rules, then try installing a parental control software. A service like NQ Family Guardian can help you control your children’s smartphone usage by setting up schedules when they can make calls, browse the Internet, text, and play apps. You can also filter out inappropriate websites and apps, keep track of your child’s location, and help your child make smart choices when using their phone.
To celebrate back to school season, we are offering a 30% discount on NQ Family Guardian.