Ask any kid from first grade to college to name the phone, media player or tablet they love most and you’ll hear iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Brand awareness and demand for Apple products among the gym crowd has never been higher. What most parents don’t realize, however, is that if proper security controls aren’t put in place, Apple’s wonderful devices could be an unguarded gateway to dangerous forbidden fruit.
While most parents know to use parental controls on their home computers, according to a McAfee survey, four out of five parents don’t turn on such software. Nearly a third of parents left their children alone when browsing, and nearly half of parents said they didn’t know if their children had social media accounts on sites like Facebook. (Think your kid is too young? More than 20% of 4th and 5th graders have a social media profile. According to a Cox Communications study, 72% of teens have a social media profile.) social networks and almost half have a public profile that anyone can see).
More than half of parents do not control their children’s use of desktop or laptop computers (according to a survey by MSN Europe). When it comes to mobile internet security, even the most tech-savvy parents find it almost impossible to monitor their children’s mobile habits. Even if children only use their mobile devices on the way to and from school, they should 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 next to their child.
Fortunately, there are technologies that can help. Parents can create mobile security for their children and it is not as difficult as they think.
Mobile computing is the fastest growing technology sector, with penetration of the youth market increasing every day. Seventy-six percent of all children ages eight to 18 have iPods or other MP3 players. Teens spend at least 49 minutes a day consuming media on mobile devices, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Mobile technology can expose young people to the good, the bad, and the ugly of the Internet. According to a Pew Internet study, 70 percent of teens are accidentally exposed to pornography on the web.
The apple of every child’s eye:
With more than 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 apps for kids means that brand loyalty from youngsters is already assured. In addition to being “cool,” iOS devices are changing the way learning is done in the classroom and at home.
There are pilot programs using mobile learning in all 50 states. Many focus on iPod touch as the primary computer to replace all textbooks, coursework, graphing calculators, etc. The iSchool initiative estimates that each $150 iPod touch would save at least $600 per student per year. Those mighty numbers mean more school programs will require an iPod touch. (Some schools will even standardize on the iPod touch’s sibling, the larger and more expensive iPad, which runs on the same iOS platform.)
Parents and school districts alike will need to find ways to protect these devices so they are kid-friendly at home and in the classroom. This is not just a security issue, there is money involved. Schools that enable mobile learning must implement Kids’ Mobile Internet Protection standards to enforce an Internet safety standard and remain eligible for federal funding.
As more school systems test Apple iOS products in the classroom, parents and educators alike should ensure that the first defense against inappropriate content (web filtering software) is configured on students’ iPhones, iPods, and iPads. kids.
Some think that the parental controls on iPods, iPhones and iPads are insufficient. While parental controls are important for desktops and laptops, mobile parental controls need to go beyond what’s built into the technology of the devices. To make sure your mobile kids navigate safely on the mobile web, here are 10 tips to keep your child safe online.
Kids Mobile Internet Safety Tip #1: Safari could be a safari of unfiltered content.
As good as Safari is at displaying sites (as long as they don’t use Flash), it doesn’t have parental web filtering controls. None. Zipper. Any. If your kids want to chat on PredatorsRUs.com, Safari will let them. First, change the iPod’s Safari browser to one that allows web filtering.
Kids’ Mobile Internet Safety Tip #2: Invest in a leading online content filtering service.
Services like Mobicip (http://www.mobicip.com/) have won Parent’s Choice Awards and are used by school districts across the country to filter dangerous content online. There are a number of kid-safe iPod browsers on the market. Read the reviews and choose the highest rated kid-safe iPod browser in your child’s age range.
Kids’ Mobile Internet Safety Tip #3: Use iPod’s Basic Parental Controls.
Once you’ve installed the Kid Safe iPod Browser, disable Safari. But be careful, children are smart. If kids don’t like using a kid-safe iPod browser, they’ll just download another browser. That’s how you stop them.
In the iPod settings menu, select Restrictions and turn off Safari, YouTube, App Installation, and Location. You can also turn off the camera, if appropriate.
While you’re at it, restrict the type of content they can download from iTunes to age-appropriate levels. Disable in-app purchases.
Kids’ Mobile Internet Safety Tip #4: Search is king.
Search is where the action is. (That’s why Google has a market cap of $151 billion.) Children often find inappropriate content by accident through searches. You need a kid-safe iPod browser that enforces safe searches on all popular search engines. Make sure this feature cannot be disabled by changing your search engine preferences.
Kids Mobile Internet Safety Tip #5: Keep your blacklist up to date automatically.
There are hundreds of thousands of new websites created every day. (Spammers alone create 57,000 new sites every week.) If you block PredatorsRUs.com today, the bad guys will create Predators4Friends.com tomorrow. Make sure your kid-safe iPod browser constantly updates its list of threats.
Kids’ Mobile Internet Safety Tip #6: Use the ratings as a guide.
Even the most dedicated parent can’t navigate and judge every new website, so make sure your kid-safe iPod browser uses ratings like the Family Online Safety Institute’s Movie Style Ratings to choose which sites your child can visit.
Kids Mobile Internet Safety Tip #7: Use a browser with real-time filtering.
Because your child may be the first to discover an inappropriate site, make sure your kid-safe iPod browser can detect inappropriate content on the fly.
Kids Mobile Internet Safety Tip #8: Encrypt your kids’ traffic.
The bad guys use free WiFi hotspots to spy on people’s internet traffic. That guy over there isn’t working on his novel, he’s watching his son’s remote use of his iPod. Get a kid-safe iPod browser that encrypts web traffic over unsecured WiFi hotspots.
Mobile Internet Safety Tip for Kids #9: Wireless security extends to 3G and 4G as well.
Apple has restricted some iPod, iPhone, and iPad features to Wi-Fi only, while others work with your carrier’s 3G or 4G signal. Make sure your iPod’s kid-safe browser security measures remain intact when you switch from cellular to WiFi, or vice versa.
Kids’ Mobile Internet Safety Tip #10: Allow age-appropriate web use.
Keep in mind that as your child gets older, you’ll want a kid-safe iPod browser that has graduated levels of web access for older kids.
Mobile Internet security solutions start first and foremost with web filtering. Block sites that are going to cause problems. But by far the best way to protect your kids is to sit down and talk about mobile internet safety. Here are some places to start.
Protecting children on mobile devices: online security
Both parents and children greatly underestimate online safety. Here is a compilation of popular resources available online for discerning parents.
– FBI Publications – A Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety
– Family Safety Online Institute – FOSI.org
– WiredSafety.org – The World’s Largest Internet Safety, Help & Education Resource
– iSAFE.org – The Leader in Internet Safety Education
– iKeepSafe.org – The Internet Safety Coalition