Smart Mobile Handsets for Kids: Benefits and Risks

by Istvan Fekete on March 19, 2013

More than 75% of teenagers have a cellphone and use at least one social networking site such as Facebook, a recent Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project has found. If you are relieved that your child isn’t posting embarrassing messages on Facebook, read on, because there is more . . . much more.

Social media isn’t limited to Facebook. In fact, the number of social media sites available on mobile devices has exploded in the past few years. If your child has a smartphone, there are free or paid apps which enable kids to chat informally with select groups of friends without exceeding the texting limits included in the monthly plan — see WhatsUp Messenger, which, by the way, violates Canadian law. But the main issue, as highlighted by the Pew study, is that mobile devices give kids the perfect tool to fend off parental monitoring, or the eyes of coaches, college admissions officers who are Facebook posters themselves.

For instance, there are Snapchat, Kik Messenger, and Instagram, which are much cooler social media platforms.

And some parents are facing the harsh reality that their attempts to control the kids’ online activity is a war they are losing each day. Kids seem to know much more about social media than do their parents.

Snapchat is one of the most popular free iPhone apps available, which allows users to send a multimedia message that self-destructs within 10 seconds of being opened. The app was coined by the media as the “sexting” app.

But this is just one side of the coin. On the other side there are the hackers who target social media sites, which are then used to spread malware and propagating scams.

Also, the majority of free mobile apps collect personal data such as the user’s birth data or the location of the phone, and share that information, thus making money. They say it’s for “marketing purposes”, as another study has pointed out.

The above, however, are the risks that must be considered when children receive a cellphone from their parents. Canadian telcos have special webpages set up for information purposes, but the first step must always come from the parent.

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Written by: Istvan Fekete. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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