How to: Keep your child safe on their portable devices

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Cell Phone Safety

As your children graduate into middle school and high school, they will ask (demand?) for a cell phone. A comScore survey conducted in September 2011 found that 20.1 million Canadians ages 13 and older used mobile devices. It’s not at all uncommon for kids 6-9 years old to have them as well, often receiving the hand-me-down phone of a sibling or parent. There is such a range of phone types and service plans—it pays to do your homework before choosing. Just because your 12-year-old wants a phone doesn’t mean they need unlimited texting or web access.

Once your child has a cell phone, you will have to learn how to send a text message. The comScore survey found that 67.4 per cent of mobile users and 88.1 per cent of smartphone users aged 13 and older sent text messages, while the Pew study found that half of teens send 50 or more text messages per day and for teen girls, the average is more than 100 texts per day!

If your child’s phone has web access, consider adding security to it. You can block anyone from adding spy software to the phone, or tapping the global positioning system (GPS) feature to track his or her physical location. You can also set up remote lock and wipe features in the event of loss or theft. Norton offers security products for smartphones, and you can find them on our website

Mobile Device Safety From the most recent Norton Cybercrime Report, 35 per cent of online adults globally have had their mobile device lost or stolen. We know from Symantec’s 2012 “Honey Stick” project that when a smartphone is lost, only half of those who find the device will return it. And almost all the finders will first access the phone’s data. Prevent someone from reviewing your private messages, contacts, and images by setting a password on the device. Then put a piece of tape (yes, a low tech solution!) on the phone with a contact number, such as your home or office number, to help a Good Samaritan who wishes to return the device to you.

One trend to watch is the ability to make purchases with our mobile devices. New technology called “near field communications” enables cell phones and mobile devices to make purchases by sending authorization signals. Applications are already available for a wide variety of providers to help people purchase coffee, make person-to-person payments, and conduct online banking—all with a wave of a mobile device. We can be sure that cybercriminals are going to figure out an exploit so be cautious about the use of mobile payment and monitor your accounts with care.

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