Smartphones provide many ways for users to communicate including texting, calling, emailing, instant messaging and video calling. It is a good idea to chat to your child to understand how they use their smartphone to communicate.
As smartphones can be used to go online, many users will access social networking sites like Facebook. Safe social networking should be part of the conversation you have with your child, covering topics such as privacy settings, what’s okay and not okay to post, as well as how to block and report. See our Social Networking Leaflet for more advice.
Encourage your child to think about what they say or send via their phone; like other information posted online, content can be copied, edited or passed on to other people. Once it is sent you have lost control of it. Ensure that your child thinks about their responsibilities not to pass on information that might be hurtful or illegal.
The most popular apps with young people are games, and as part of their functionality, these offer an opportunity for communication. Many such games are for users to play alone, but many app games allow you to play against other players and make online friends that you don’t know in real life, with integrated chat rooms so you can chat to other gamers while you play. For example, UNO for iPhone and Android phones encourages you to “make new friends” over the internet. (See the app review from Common Sense). Playing such games can be fun, but it is important to ensure children know how to stay safe, by keeping personal information private and not agreeing to meet up with someone they have only met in this way. Talk to your child – are they chatting to strangers while they play games? Ensure that the content of the chat is appropriate and discuss what they should do if someone makes them feel uncomfortable. On some phones you can restrict the ability to take part in multiplayer games (see iPhone tips).