Kids with cell phones are at special risk for having their privacy invaded, and sometimes they never even know it. It’s possible for predators and bullies to gain access to your child’s phone, accessing their private information and even physically finding out where they are.
Once someone gains access to your child’s smart phone, they can look at his or her pictures, text messages, call logs, web browsing history, and address book. They can even track the phone’s physical location if the device is enabled with GPS.
It’s not always possible to tell if your child’s phone has been compromised, but here are some signs that something is going on that needs your immediate attention:
- Phone takes a long time to turn off
- Random lights or noises from the phone
- Background noise or clicking when on voice calls
- Phone runs hot when not in use by your child
- Sudden decrease in battery life
- Sharp increase in data usage
Obviously, you should protect your child’s phone as you do your home computer: regularly update your anti-virus software and be safe about what you download and do on the device.
Hackers usually gain access to cell phones in one of two ways. Most commonly, they borrowed or took your child’s phone and installed a spy app on it. They have to have the phone physically in hand to do this. For this reason your child should be careful about where they leave their phone and put a secure passcode on it. Be sure that your child understands that they must share their passcode with you – but no one else.
Hackers can also gain control of your child’s phone remotely by embedding malware in an app. That’s why it’s important to teach your children to evaluate the safety of files or apps before downloading, or links and attachments before opening them. As a general rule, it’s also safer to use a 3G network than public Wi-Fi.
A cell phone is an indispensable tool for many of our children, but it also opens them up to identity theft or worse if a predator or bully gets in. While there’s no way to guarantee that your child will never be targeted, there’s plenty you can do to protect them and recognize red flags that someone has gained unauthorized access to their phone.
Tim Woda is a passionate advocate for protecting children from today’s scariest digital dangers – cyberbullying, sexting and online predators. He is the co-founder of uKnow.com, developers of uKnowKids.