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10 November 2017

Keeping Your Children Mobile Safe At School

With both of the Mini Mes now attending secondary school it seemed quite natural for them to have mobile phone contracts of their own. They are beginning to be quite independent individuals having recently turned 11 and 13 years of age and having a handset each ensures that I can contact them at when required and, more importantly, they can get in touch with me when needed. It also allows them to chat with friends in the evenings and at weekends to arrange their social lives, which are actually far more exciting than my own already, which they really appreciate.

Which Handset to Get

Moomin has had a mobile phone for several years being the older sibling and as she has shown that she is capable of taking care of her technology (none have been lost or broken yet thankfully) she is on her second model which I will upgrade again for her at Christmas. It won't be the latest iPhone 8 or X handset, I don't want to risk spending that much money and it being stolen, but it will be more up to date to suit her needs. She currently has a pink Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini which has been fine but the storage is fast becoming inadequate and she needs something faster for the number of apps she wants to install and the number of images she takes.

Jambo on the other hand doesn't tend to look after his property as well as he should unfortunately and he has smashed quite a few Kindle screens over the years by leaving them around, so he will be sticking with his black Samsung Galaxy Core Prime for the time being. I think opting for a reasonably low-cost mobile is the best place to start and working up to something more expensive. I'd also advise getting a robust case and screen protector to minimise damage.

Mobile Phones at School

A lot of schools don't permit mobile phone usage so it's best to check the policy first but I'm actually quite pleased that the Mini Mes' can have theirs to hand. They generally have phones turned off/muted throughout the day so they don't interrupt lessons but then switch them on at break and lunch to use if they wish. With buses being late or missed, bags and lunch being forgotten or trips to the library and friend's houses being organised it allows parents to remain up to date on their child's whereabouts. It also means I can be informed if they need picking up later due to clubs or from a different location which really prevents any worry or unnecessary panic.

Addressing Issues

Although I think the positive points of children having mobile phones outweigh the negatives, I also think it's important to have rules in place from the very beginning to ensure things don't go wrong. My main worry about the Mini Mes having mobile phones initially was their online access, both the content they can view and the time spent on the internet, but they are incredibly sensible and have earned trust over time - they stick to the simple rules we have in place:

  • I always advise the Mini Mes to keep their phones off or on silent without vibrate mode being active throughout the day. This prevents them from being confiscated in lessons or causing a distraction to themselves or others
  • I ask them to have the mobile data switched off when at home and school and just use the WiFi when possible to keep costs low
  • You can download a variety of apps to the mobile phone for added safety. Kaspersky Security Cloud allows you to limit usage times and set access hours which is handy and you can also check websites visited to ensure your child is safe online. You can even have alerts in place so when inappropriate content is accessed you are made aware, location detection switched on so you know where your child/the handset is all whilst protecting against malware. It really provides peace of mind as a parent
  • It's important to be open and discuss how to behave appropriately on social media. I tell the children not to upload photos of themselves which can show their location, school etc to protect their identity and to avoid messaging people they don't know. It's also wise to view the accounts regularly and limit time spent on them
  • We speak openly and often about cyber bullying and how to treat others correctly. I also remind the Mini Mes to tell me if anything occurs that makes them feel uncomfortable, or if they witness any nastiness to family and friends

Generally, I feel that mobile phones are incredibly useful for the Mini Mes to have but basic steps need to be in place to ensure they, or any child, use them correctly and safely.

Do your children have mobile phones? Do you have any tips to add to the list?

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  1. My son has had one for a while now, he goes to a school in another borough, so I feel much more happier about his safety. We used to put a limit on his data but now he has unlimited, which suits his needs. We also do checks on his phone as he tends be signed up to quite a lot of social media groups.
    My middle boy will be going into senior school next September and as asked for a phone for Christmas, so we are looking into buying him one (obviously, it would have to be a second hand one-day to his age and lack of memory)

  2. maria rogers05/12/2017, 14:46

    my daughter was one of the first in her yr to get a phone


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