The days are getting shorter and your bags are (finally) unpacked from the annual family vacation. Summer is officially coming to an end. For kids, nothing is more bittersweet than switching gears from hot days filled with play dates and summer camps to long school days and early mornings. For a kid, a new school year means carefree days are a thing of the past, because it’s time to hit the books!
Back to school shopping was always my favorite activity. From picking out the perfect pencils and folders, to hunting for the new cool sneakers, a new school year was met with equal parts dread and excitement. This year, in addition to binders and backpacks, we’re sending our kids back to school with another kind of must-have: mobile devices. When we entrust our kids with such things, it’s important to be mindful of the power and responsibility we bestow upon them; ensuring they know how to stay safe.
As adults, we see news everywhere we look. In 2016, it’s not all good news. We watch reports of cyberhacks, making us all more aware of the threats that lie within our digital life. Children aren’t as cognizant of the dangers, and it’s our job to help protect them. Just like the lessons we teach them about being respectful in class and playing nice with others, we need to teach them lessons of mobile safety.
Finding the perfect backpack and getting your child to wake up before 8 a.m. is stressful enough, so here are some helpful tips for sending them back to school with mobile safety in mind:
- Secure their search. One of the greatest joys that children and teens bring is their sense of wonder. They’re filled with curiosity, and technology can answer their every question. With internet use becoming more engrained in the school curriculum, the need to search for facts and conduct research means they’ll be using the web for more than playing games. Teach your kids about safe searching, including terms and sites to avoid and what to look for while avoiding malicious exploits. Cybercriminals are just a click away, waiting to launch onto your child’s mobile device.
- Catch Pokémon, not a virus. After all of that studying, kids will be kids, and kids love to play games. Hopefully all that gaming doesn’t happen during school hours, but while waiting for the bus or after the bell rings. Teach your children about the potential dangers that gaming may bring, and keep a close eye on their app downloads. There are plenty of malicious games that no kid should be playing, and parental control apps can be a smart way to help keep your child’s device safe.
- Sharing isn’t always caring. Kids are taught to share both their toys and the last cookie with their siblings and friends, but the same rules don’t always apply to mobile devices. A new school year can mean connections with friends, and strangers, through apps and sites. All of that information can lead to a major oversharing problem. Revealing personal information on non-secure sites and apps can lead to some big cyber-trouble, like malware or predators. Teach your child the importance of password safety, keeping personal details private, and always using good judgement when sharing. McAfee® Mobile Security, free for Android and iOS, keeps your child’s device, privacy, and data locked down. Just like you, it can do it all!
The start of a new school year is the perfect time to sit your child down for every kid’s favorite thing, “a talk.” It doesn’t have to be scary, but be open with them and give them the tools they need for a great, and safe, school year. You’ll both be glad you did down the road.
Best wishes for a wonderful school year!