Smartphones are mobile phones with internet access. They are capable of a range of functions, including social networking, listening to music, playing games, browsing the internet, checking emails, taking photos and videos and watching TV – along with the usual texting and calling!

app [noun] = a small, specialised software program which can be downloaded to a mobile device to carry out a particular function (from Scrabble to Facebook!)

You can personalise your phone by downloading ‘apps’ which carry out fun and useful functions, from checking train times to caring for a virtual pet! According to Ofcom, the most popular types of apps among young people are for games, social networking and music.

Smartphones are incredibly popular with young people – research has shown that 59% of young people aged 12-15 have a smartphone. Popular brands include BlackBerryiPhone and Android phones such as the HTC Sensation.

Internet safety advice is directly applicable to smartphones because risks of Content, Contact, Conduct and Commercialism also apply:

  • Content: age-inappropriate material can be available to children Open or Close

    As smartphones have internet access, the risks that young people face online also apply to smartphones. There are also apps which contain content that may be inappropriate for young people, for example of a sexual or violent nature. As these devices can be used for listening to music, playing games and watching TV, films and videos, you should think about whether all of this content is suitable for your child.

  • Contact: potential contact from someone who may wish to bully or abuse them Open or Close

    Smartphones provide a wide range of communication channels – calling, texting, instant messaging, social networking, video calling, chatting to other players in games and emailing to name a few. This is great for young people, who love to socialise, but these channels can also allow unwanted and hurtful contact. Smartphones can be used by bullies, and young people can make themselves vulnerable to contact by those with a sexual interest in children, particularly if they share their personal information.

  • Conduct: children may be at risk because of their own and others’ behaviour Open or Close

    Young people may get into difficulty if they don’t think about the consequences of the information they share, which may damage their online reputation or leave them open to contact from someone who may want to bully or abuse them. Equally, passing on gossip, photos or information among friends can be a form of bullying, so children need to think before they post or send anything.

  • Commercialism: young people can be unaware of hidden costs and advertising Open or Close

    There have been cases where children and young people have got into difficulty by inadvertently running up bills when buying apps and making in-app purchases. In addition, online and in-app advertising have increased massively over the last few years, with mobile advertising more than doubling during 2010. However, many young people are unaware of targeted advertising, especially if it comes in the form of a game app.