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Monitoring Children's Smartphone Use
DAYTON -- Strangers who want to get to your kids could be as close as the apps on their smartphones. Adolescents and teens in the U.S. are so savvy on their smartphones, one tech and criminology expert says they're borderline geniuses.
"They can change the operational software. They can change or hide what they're doing," says Dr. Art Jipson of the University of Dayton.
We've all heard the warnings about watching our kids when they're on the computer. Well, now that computer is in your son's or daughter's pocket. For kids, it's a lifeline, but for parents, it can be a challenge.
Candace Vandawiele is the mother of a 13-year-old smartphone user. We asked her how much she monitors her daughter's smartphone use, and she admitted it was not much. She also admits she doesn't know how many apps are on the device. Candace says Anna uses her smartphone to connect with friends by texting and using Instagram.
Lots of kids connect on apps such as Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, along with the lesser known Skout and countless chat apps. Dr. Jipson says there's a lot of information being shared when people think they have privacy. He adds young people and even moms and dads don't always fully understand how easily they can reveal their identity and location.
We asked Candace if she's aware that her daughter's smartphone is actually communicating with the apps on it, even when she's not using it. Her answer? No.
But predators do, and criminals have used random chat apps to geo-locate their targets.
Internet security firm McAfee did a recent survey of kids, and more than half said their parents know only SOME of what they do online. About a quarter said their parents don't have time to check. Dr. Jipson says parents need to get up to speed: Know the latest software. Know the latest apps.
You can turn off location services on the phone or the apps in the Privacy settings.
Click on each app to see if it's accessing the phone, info or pictures.
The free app Lookout will warn you about security risks, tell you how to improve security settings, and even tell you which apps are tracking and revealing your location.
And don't forget to talk to your kids. How much does Candace talk with her daughter Anna about smartphone safety? All the time, she says.
Experts say this generation of kids thinks it's completely natural to share everything about their lives online, so be sure to talk with your children about what's appropriate. Experts say communication is better than any software.
It's also not a bad idea to spend some time with that owner's manual for the device.
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