There’s a fine line parents have to walk when it comes to children and their smartphones. On the one hand, most kids are dying to have one, and they’re certainly useful for staying in touch with children and keeping tabs on their whereabouts. On the other, cyber-bullying and cyber-stalking are unfortunate realities in the digital age, and parents are quite right to concern themselves with the various methods available that will help them protect their children. It’s nice that the likes of Bradley Paul Hampson and Sean Duffy are doing hard time for their reprehensible activities on the internet, but in a perfect world, men like these would never have had the opportunity to commit their crimes in the first place.
There is data that suggests that cyber-bullying is not as widespread a problem as has been portrayed in the media, but this certainly shouldn’t – and certainly won’t –prevent responsible parents from being vigilant. Mobile apps like BullyShield, for example, provide your children with invaluable advice about how to react in the event they’re bullied at school or elsewhere. Other apps like the UK’s Child Defence deploy complex algorithms that help identify the age of anonymous chat buddies, and thus help ensure that predatory adults aren’t posing as children online.
One of the more celebrated child protection mobile apps is Mobicip, an app that replaces the default internet browser on your child’s phone and replaces it with a more parent-friendly one. Mobicip earned the 2010 Parents’ Choice Silver Honors Award for its role in protecting the mobile experience of children.
Of course, mobile technology is here to stay, and parents should take the time to educate themselves when it comes to their children’s online activities. That said, there’s still no substitute for keeping the (traditional) lines of communication open between parent and child, for creating an environment where children can be frank and open about the problems they experience.