Keeping kids safe on the Web

2012-11-17 00:00

PARENTS concerned about what their children view or are exposed to on their smartphones should consider parental control options for their children’s devices.

According to recent research released by Unisa’s Youth Research Unit (YRU), one of the dangers children face online is cyber bullying, which is on the rise.

A study of Gauteng high school pupils showed that almost one in five had experienced cyber bullying, and that the perception among the pupils was that cyber bullying was on the increase.

According to the study, online bullying takes several forms, including upsetting messages; gossip and rumours; name-calling; sexual remarks; unflattering and suggestive photos being shared; and physical bullying being recorded and then shared.

In addition to cyber bullying, parents are concerned about their children accessing adult and other inappropriate content; the creation and sharing of inappropriate or illegal content, including sexting; sexual grooming; the time spent online, especially late at night; Internet-enabled applications; and racking up large bills through in-app purchases, subscription services and m-commerce.

Mobiflock launched its parental control service for smartphones in March 2012, which allows parents to monitor how their children use their smartphones and also helps them put the appropriate limits in place to keep their kids safe.

The service has become popular with BlackBerry smartphone customers, but is available for Android devices and Nokia phones as well.

“Parents are concerned about the dangers their digitally naive children could face, and with Mobiflock, parents can and are doing something about it,” said Patrick Lawson, founder and CEO of the company.

“There is no denying the massive benefits of giving children a smartphone: access to the mobile Internet, educational content, communication in emergencies, entertainment and socialising,” said Lawson.

“However, there are some very real online dangers that parents need to learn about, and protect their children from.”

Other applications for smartphones include MyFone, which not only allows parents to monitor their children’s Internet usage, but also to track their child’s location, with a trail of their movements updated every 15 minutes.

To find a suitable parental control application for your child’s device, simply enter “parental control” in the Google Play store or BlackBerry App World, depending on the device.

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