Smartphones, tablets and other smart applications are becoming more and more common for toddlers, children and tween use. Toddlers and young children are becoming increasingly adept at using technology, with many being able to navigate tablets and smartphones at an early age. Surveys have found that the average age that kids get cell phones is about 10 years old and more often than not, parents are choosing to give their children a smartphone. These phones are incredibly powerful, they are connected to the internet and are able to download any of the millions of applications (or “apps”) from the system app stores.
There are millions of applications available to be downloaded but not all of them are necessarily safe for use. There are cases where applications may contain malware or collect sensitive information about your child. This is why it is important to monitor your child’s activities and make sure that you are properly vetting all the applications that they are using.
Always make sure to check and review who the app developers are and the reputation of their company. Make sure to look over reviews for the app as well as the company. Only download apps from reputable sources with a good history of solid reviews and high trust ratings.
To further ensure your child’s safety, make sure that you are reviewing the types of personal information that the app has access to. Consider if the app is asking for more information than they need to provide their service, for example an app should not be collecting your location unless it is providing a mapping or direction feature. If the app is not clear about the information they collect, or they do not explain why they collect such information, it may be best to avoid it.
You should find out what type of activities your child will be conducting on this platform and if it will be safe for them to use. Find out if the platform will be putting your child in contact with strangers, allows them to make purchases, spams them with targeted advertising, stores their passwords and/or collects information on their contacts or phone number. All of these can be indicators of a potential safety issue for your child.
It is important for parents to step up and determine the safety of the applications their children are using. It is up to the parents to work to protect the privacy of their child and determine appropriate safety plans for online application use.
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