Having a smartphone in your pocket or bag probably makes you feel cool and connected because you’re able to stay in touch with friends, browse websites, send and receive text messages, watch videos, and get calls. But as handy as a cell phone is, there are some important safety considerations that everyone needs to understand before they use one. Smartphones are powerful little computers that connect you with the world, but they can also present some real dangers if you don’t use them carefully.
Cyber-safety is a broad term that means staying safe while using the Internet. Because it’s possible to access the Internet in many different ways, cyber-safety applies to activities on computers, mobile devices, and gaming systems. When you use the Internet, be aware of the potential risks of your activities. Always keep your personal information private: Don’t share things like your address or phone number on the Internet. Avoid inappropriate websites and ones that might display questionable content. If you have any concerns about things you see or hear on the Internet, talk to a parent or another responsible adult about it.
Smartphone safety is important to understand before you begin using a cell phone. Start by making your phone password-protected so potential thieves can’t access your personal data. It’s smart to tell a parent what your password is, though, so your parent can help you stay safe while using your smartphone. Always check with a parent before downloading apps to make sure you don’t download something that’s risky or inappropriate. If you browse the Internet on your phone, stick to parent-approved websites. Apps that enable geotagging, which means sharing your physical location, can be dangerous: Disable geotagging whenever possible. And use care when you message and text others, sticking only to communicating with people you know in real life. Until you know how to safely use your smartphone, you may even want to consider having your parents monitor your texts and other phone activities.
Many apps are fun to use, offering access to games and entertainment. Check with your parents about any apps you think you want to use to get permission before you download them. Although apps may look like fun, some can be dangerous. Geotagging is one safety risk, but apps might also install viruses on a smartphone. And sometimes, apps might be free initially, but they can have hidden charges that could be added to your parents’ cell phone bills.
Connecting with people online on social media platforms can also be fun. When you use social media platforms, make sure you keep your accounts secure by using strong passwords, which you should share only with your parents. Remember, anything you post online will stay online, even if you delete it later, so don’t post anything negative or questionable that you wouldn’t want future employers to see. Maintain a positive online reputation by always treating others respectfully. Keep your personal information private, and don’t become friends with people you don’t know in real life.
Cyberbullying is a type of bullying that happens online. Instead of face-to-face bullying that might happen at school, cyberbullying might happen on social media platforms, by email, in group chats, or in text messages. Cyberbullying might involve teasing, threatening, posting unwanted pictures, or excluding people from groups. If you or someone you know experiences problems with cyberbullying, always tell an adult to get help. Make sure that you don’t mistreat others online, too.
Glossary of Terms
It might help to consult a glossary of online and mobile terms so you understand words you may hear on the Internet.
Android: Android is a type of smartphone operating system.
Apple: Apple makes smartphones known as iPhones.
App: An app is an application that you can install on a mobile device.
GPS: GPS stands for global positioning system, which uses satellites to determine a device’s exact position.
MMS: Multimedia messaging service enables sending electronic messages that include images, audio, or video.
SMS: Short message service enables sending electronic messages that contain text only.
Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi is a wireless connection via a local network.