How to keep kids mobile safe at school
Times have changed so much since I was at school. One of the big differences is in relation to connectivity.
The fact my children have mobile phones makes me worry about them less and worry about them more in relation to school life.
Let’s consider the benefits first
What do I love about them having mobile phones? There are a number of benefits to my kids having mobile phones at school and it is definitely something I would advocate.
For instance, I can track them by “stalking” their location! I don’t use this facility very often but I do when I am worried and it brings me a lot of peace of mind. All sorts of phone trackers are available and really can bring peace of mind. When one of my kids went on a school trip recently, I was able to know their whereabouts without having to call or text them to ask.
Another great things about my children having their own phones is that if their plans change, they can call me to let me know. An example might be:
“Sarah has invited me back to hers after school so I will be there until 5 rather than coming straight home, is that okay?”
“I missed my bus so please don’t worry if I am 20 minutes late.”
I also love that they can call me if they need help with something:
“Agggh, sorry mum but I left my PE kit on the kitchen table would you PLEASE drop it at school on your way into work?”
“Hi, had a really rubbish day mum can we have some time together when I get home?”
Likewise I’m able to contact my kids if I am stuck in traffic, running late to collect them or if any of my plans change.
Being able to communicate easily means we avoid confusion and worry to a large degree.
Other things they are able to do such as looking up bus timetables on their phone or accessing their music to listen to if they are walking alone – well these are all good things. Social apps like WhatsApp enable my kids to chat easily with school friends too and make arrangements to meet up and ask each other questions in relation to homework. These can also be real perks.
I am under no illusions though; using mobile phones at school can be an issue. It’s not all fun and games.
The problems with mobile phones and some possible solutions.
Have you tried turning it off and on again?
All schools require phones to be switched off and not used. Many children neglect to do this and end up in trouble.
Children need to turn their phones on only when they are using them when travelling to and from school and then turn them off during school hours. If this becomes a regular habit they will not end up in trouble for having their phone on in school. They need to know a different procedure for getting a message to you from school if it is urgent e.g going to the school office. It’s about having guidelines in place.
Think about theft
Phones can be stolen either en route to school or out of lockers or bags. This can be an expensive problem and very upsetting. Your children can be vulnerable walking alone carrying an expensive phone.
Encourage your children only to use their phones when necessary and in busy areas. Encourage them not to leave their phones in their pockets but in a specific, concealed compartment in their bag. Encourage them to understand thier phone is expensive and should be treasured and taken care of like their keys and not just handed around or carelessly left lying around. Perhaps avoid giving them the latest model of phone for school!
Stay safe on social media
Social media sites can be rife with bullying – children need to use them age appropriately and with respect for each other, though this can prove extremely difficult to enforce.
My advice with this would be to only let them use social media sites and have accounts on sites when they meet the ages guidelines of that site. Depending on your child’s age/level of maturity I would insist on knowing their passwords so you can check their behaviour on their accounts and ensure they are staying safe. And I would check regularly. Also follow all their social media accounts with your own.
You would also be wise to be up to date with how the various social media accounts and apps work to keep fully aware of the potential dangers. Many parents I know never use Instagram but are happy to let their young kids have an account believing because its private they are safe. Group chats and an open search facility leaves them exposed to inappropriate material no matter how private the account. You need to use it yourself to see how it works.
Monitor their usage
Some children spend too long on their phones to and from school and then again when they are home.
Excessive use of phones isn’t healthy for any of us and there is a lot we can do to monitor and control the amount of time our children spend on their phones. To help parents monitor their children’s online activity as well as keeping their children safe, there are security systems like Kaspersky Security Cloud which allow you to control safety settings on devices such as mobile phones and tablets. You’re also able to set up alerts to monitor internet and device use in your child’s account enabling you to control the amount of time your child spends on the device, and the hours that they can go online. It also has a location feature and security settings that can block certain material online that isn’t age appropriate.
There is actually an awful lot you can do to keep your kids safe and reap the benefits rather than the negative consequences of mobile phones. Talking, guidance, great products and role modelling will all really help.
You really can be in control.