Smart phones with easy access to the Internet are reaching even the youngest users. According to a survey* by Xiaomi, 23.4% of parents buy their children’s first smartphone when they start elementary school. An expert on cyber security warns that the use of phones by minors also brings risks. “Smartphones bring unlimited possibilities of use, from playing online games, through chat applications, to accessing websites, including those that are unsuitable for children. Therefore, parents should be cautious and supervise how children use smart phones. Of course, today the two most widespread mobile platforms (Android and iOS) offer the so-called surveillance applications and various setting options in them, but if we consider education to be a basic building block in protecting against cyber threats, then this applies doubly to the education of school-age children – we must not forget that,” explained Michal Srnec from Aliter Technologies.
According to the cyber security expert, there are several ways to keep an eye on children, the most widespread being so-called parental applications. These allow parents to pay attention to how the child uses the phone and block access in advance where it should not be. “Parents can set restrictions on access to specific applications, pages, content or sharing sensitive data on the child’s smartphone so that children are protected systemically. Modern devices also allow setting the location, thanks to which we will have an overview of where the child is,” said Michal Srnec. Parents should set the administrator role for themselves and the user role for the child in the smartphone, so that the child does not have the opportunity to change the settings.
According to the expert, it is necessary to communicate openly with children about the pitfalls on the Internet and educate them. “We have to explain to children the difference between real life and the virtual world. What gets on the internet stays on the internet. Sharing information from private life, photos, or inappropriate comments can expose children to the risk of cyberbullying, which is widespread”, says Srnec. According to a survey from last year, which was organized by the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Education on a sample of 1,112 primary and secondary students, more than 20% of pupils experienced cyberbullying.
If children like to play games or often use popular applications, the parent can also set a usage limit known as “screen time” for a specified number of hours per day so that the smartphone does not disturb the children’s concentration.
The cyber security expert also does not recommend pairing a bank card with a child’s phone or game application that the child uses. “We have recorded cases where children without the knowledge of their parents bought expansions for games for thousands of euros,” concluded Michal Srnec from the company Aliter Technologies.
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