If you are a parent, keeping your family safe in the digital world is an endless taskThere are new threats everyday. Hackers, scammers, and Cybermonsters lurk around every corner of the cyber world, trying to get your most precious information.
Teens are even more susceptible to online dangers because they may not sense danger or may recognize their overall impact. An inexperienced teen can easily become the next victim of cybercrime or identity theft.
Let’s assess whether your teen is at risk:
Does your teenager have a phone?
Do you have controls in place to monitor what your teens do in their smartphones?
Do you have conversations with your teenager about the many hazards present in the cyber world?
Having a smartphone automatically means that Cybermonsters are trying to get into their phone, so let’s talk about some steps you can take to prevent them from becoming a victim of cybercrime and identity theft.
3 signs that your teen’s phone is vulnerable to a cyber attack
It goes without saying that, as a parent or guardian, you want to protect your teenager, however, in order to do that, you must be aware of what vulnerabilities exist. Here are a few:
Your teen hasn’t set up a PIN on their phone. Without a passcode, pattern, fingerprint or face recognition your teenager’s phone lacks the most basic security feature, and Cybermonsters can easily get your teenager’s information for nefarious purposes.
Your teen installs free apps. Nothing is really free, so when your teen downloads free apps from third party stores or from sketchy websites, they are actually trading their information – and yours!
Your teen jailbreaks or roots their phone or devices. If your teen were to remove the restrictions or safeguards provided by the manufacturer or operators to install apps that aren’t authorized, they would also remove the security layers on the device, which is extremely dangerous!
Do phone usage contracts work?
My friend Mike, who is a lawyer, created a contract with the boundaries, restrictions, and penalties for his teens to have a phone, and his teens decided to sign the contract. This simple tool started an engaging dialogue in their family.
Contracts or written agreements do not work for everyone, though. The pressure of a contract could create anxiety in your teenager, while providing a false sense of security for parents. Family conflicts arise when contracts are broken.
Only you know your family and your relationship with your kids. There is a delicate balance between privacy, trust, and keeping your kids safe online. My mom was an overprotective parent to a point that our relationship was affected for many years until I understood all the dangers she was trying to shield me from.
Helping Teens Protect Their Phone and Themselves
Ultimately, your teenager will be solely responsible to keep themselves safe online; however, you can ensure your teenager’s phone is protected by taking these 3 steps:
Add a PIN, passcode, enabled fingerprint, or face recognition on their phone, so the phone locks down when not in use.
Educate your teenagers about the dangers of free apps, and encourage them to only download apps from official stores.
Increase your cyber knowledge to model what safety looks like. For example, you could schedule time to update your phones as a family on a regular basis.
These practices will help you become more confident and empowered in your role as a protector, and will keep the Cybermonsters at bay!
How do you encourage your teenager to keep their phone safe from cyber threats? Share your #1 tip with us in the comments below.