Important that kids remain smartphone safe 

RESEARCH by Telstra shows that more that 80 per cent of 15-17-year-olds now use a smartphone, while children as young as nine are using connected laptops and PCs.

While school bags are increasingly packed with internet connected gadgets including mobiles, laptops and tablets, parents have concerns about cyber-safety risks such as approaches from online strangers and cyber bullying.

For parents, mobiles provide an easy way to keep in touch when their children are commuting to and from school and extracurricular activities, and, for kids that can mean greater independence. But along with many benefits there can be some risks – especially for the increasing number of young people adopting internet-connected smartphones.

We know many parents view internet connected technology as an important part of their child’s learning and development. However, with kids taking these tech tools to school in record numbers, it’s important they know how to stay safe when using them.

Sitting down with your child for 10 minutes to talk to them about cyber-safety essentials such as when to share personal information online, handling approaches from cyber bullies or strangers online and applying social network privacy settings will make the experience of owning a gadget a better one for kids.

As kids return to school, many parents are turning to technology to keep them safe online.

While parental control software is broadly available for internet services in the home, Telstra has developed one of the first products to help protect Australian kids on their phones.

These controls let parents tailor a mobile phone service to the needs and maturity of their kids by allowing them to set time-of-day limits on calls and mobile web use, block unwanted callers, choose the mobile web content that can be accessed and restrict outgoing calls to specific contacts such as mum or dad.

Back to school online safety tips:

* Make sure your child knows what to do and where to go if they encounter cyber-bullying.

* Educate your child so they know not to give out personal details (such as their birthday, school, home address or phone number) online without parental knowledge.

* Ensure kids understand that they shouldn’t be “friends” on social networking sites with people they don’t know in the real world and make sure you understand how to use privacy settings so that you can jointly manage the content they share.

* Don’t ignore new technologies – kids and teens will use them, if not at home, then at their friends’ houses or in the schoolyard. Ask your child to give you a lesson on sites or internet gadgets you may not be familiar with.

Back to school mobile safety tips:

* Remind your kids to be careful about who they pass their mobile phone number to.

* Ensure their mobile phone is PIN locked. If they use a smartphone, also set up a password to protect their email and social networking accounts when the phone is switched on.

* Encourage your kids to think before they send. The person that they send a text, picture or video to may not be the only one who will see them.

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