Tips on Child Mobile Internet Safety

Ask any kid from first grade to college to name the phone, media player or tablet that they covet the most and you’ll hear iPhone, iPod touch and the iPad. Brand awareness and demand for Apple products among the jungle gym crowd has never been higher. What most parents don’t realize though is that if appropriate safety checks aren’t put in place, Apple’s wonderful devices could be an unguarded gateway to dangerous forbidden fruits.

While most parents know they should use parental controls on their home computers, according to a survey by McAfee, four out of five parents fail to turn such software on. Nearly a third of parents left their kids alone when surfing, and almost half of parents said they didn’t know if their kids had social networking accounts at sites like Facebook. (Think your kid is too young? Over 20 percent of 4th – 5th graders have a social networking profile. According to a Cox Communications study, 72 percent of teens have a social networking profile and nearly half have a public profile viewable by anyone.)

Over half of parents don’t monitor their kids’ desktop or laptop usage (according to an MSN Europe survey). When it comes to mobile Internet safety, even the most tech savvy parents find it next to impossible to monitor their kids’ mobile habits. Even if kids only use their mobile devices during the commute to and from school, they need to use them safely. Personal monitoring is not always possible. Even when they’re in the same room, a parent can’t read what’s on a small screen without sitting right next to their child.

Fortunately, there are technologies that can help. Parents can create mobile safety for their children, and it isn’t as difficult as they may think.

Mobile computing is the fastest growing technology sector, with youth market penetration rising higher each day. Seventy-six percent of all eight to 18-year olds have iPods or other MP3 players. Teens spend at least 49 minutes a day consuming media on mobile devices, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation Study.

Mobile technology can expose young people to the good, the bad and ugly of the Internet. According to a Pew Internet study, 70 percent of teens are exposed to pornography accidentally on the web.

The Apple of every kid’s eye:
With over 120 million iOS devices sold, as of September, 2010 (67.6 million iPhones, 7.2 million iPads, 45.2 million iPod touches), Apple dominates the mobile market. Beyond its obvious cool factor, the availability of thousands of kid-friendly apps means that youth brand loyalty is already locked in. In addition to being “cool”, iOS devices are changing the way learning happens in the classroom and at home.

There are pilot programs using mobile learning in all 50 states. Many are centered around the iPod touch as the primary computer to replace all textbooks, coursework, graphing calculators, etc. The iSchool Initiative estimates each $150 iPod touch would save at least $600 per student per year. Those powerful numbers mean that more school programs will require an iPod touch. (A few schools will even standardize over to the iPod touch’s brother, the larger and more expensive iPad, which runs on the same iOS platform.)

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