As a parent, you take many precautions to protect your children. You baby-proof the house, you put up safety gates, you give them swimming lessons, and you teach them about stranger danger. You even activate parental locks on your TV and game consoles. But one precaution many parents fail to take is to make sure their smartphone or tablet computer is safe for their children.
Like laptop and desktop computers, smartphones and tablets have parental lock features that need to be utilized in order to make them safer for children to use. Giving children unlimited access to the internet is a recipe for trouble. Children can access content that is not age appropriate, give away personal information that makes them vulnerable to crimes, and accidentally run up charges on your credit card.
Consider the story of a boy in the UK who charged over $1,400 to his mother’s credit card playing FarmVille, a Facebook game. Phone companies make it easy for their customers to buy apps with the fewest number of clicks. This makes it far too easy for your child to go crazy and go on and eBook or video game buying spree. Setting parental controls is usually easy and is a great way to protect your child and your credit rating.
Another issue with child safety and smartphones is the batteries. In rare cases, cell phone batteries have been known to overheat and even explode. In a recent incident on an airliner, an iPhone started smoking and exploded due to a faulty battery. While these issues are rare, it is still worth working to avoid. To minimize the risk of battery failure, always buy batteries from reputable sources. Cheap batteries sometimes lack protection circuitry, which can lead to overcharging and explosions. Other ways to keep your battery safe for your children is to be on the lookout for recalls on your battery or phone and keep your phone out of reach of children while it is charging. It is also a good idea to supervise your child closely when they are using your smartphone. Children can accidentally remove the battery and younger children may try to chew on it.
One final safety issue to consider with smartphones is radiation emissions. While there have so far been no conclusive studies linking cell phones to cancer, it may be better to be cautious. Small children’s brain’s are still developing and radiation could potentially cause more damage to them than to an adult’s brain. With this in consideration, it may be prudent to limit your child’s exposure to your smartphone, particularly to it being held close to their head. When the child is using the phone to talk, turn on the speaker so they do not have to hold it to their ear. When the child is playing with an eBook or an app, consider putting the phone in Airplane Mode, so the radio is not transmitting signals.
If you take these simple precautions with your child and your smartphone or tablet, you will help ensure their safety and your own peace of mind.
Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want to be safe with smartphones.
Image courtesy of Nokia RSA via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.