The iPhone is such a hot device that ‘apple picking,’ code for stealing an iPhone, is becoming shockingly commonplace. A stolen iPhone can be used to cyberbully or impersonate the owner, or give identity thieves and predators access to the private, identifying information stored on your child’s phone.
If your child is the owner of a smartphone, here are some things you can do right now to protect his or her safety and security.
Many kids who say someone “stole” their phone actually forgot it lying in plain sight and when they went back for it, the phone was gone. Even if they are careful with their phone, its small size makes it an easy target for theft. Any child old enough to have their own smartphone must be old enough to follow these safety rules:
- Never leave the phone unattended or out of arm’s reach if you’re not paying attention
- Keep the smartphone in a zippered inner pocket on your backpack or person
- Don’t slip your phone in an exposed outer pocket of your backpack to carry it, especially on the bus
- If you store the phone in your locker, keep it locked and don’t tell anyone the combination
- Don’t lend the phone to anyone you don’t completely trust
Protect the Information on the Phone
There are plenty of things you and your child can do to protect the information stored on the phone. Even if the phone ends up in someone else’s hands, a few simple things can keep your child’s information secure.
- Set a passcode for accessing the phone (it’s preferable to do this right away, but if the phone is stolen first you can use Find My iPhone over the Internet to set a passcode as well)
- Be wary of downloading apps, especially free ones, because they might carry malware that can access the phone remotely
If the Phone Is Stolen
Despite your child’s best efforts at protecting their iPhone, sometimes theft happens. If it does, immediately follow these steps.
- Call the police to report the theft
- Change any and all passwords for other accounts (email, Facebook, etc) that are stored on the phone
- Use a tracking app to locate the phone via GPS, or in worst case scenario, remotely wipe data from the phone
iPhone theft is becoming a very prevalent occurrence, especially in middle and high schools across the country. Please do not allow your tween or teen to carry a smartphone without giving them the tools they need to be responsible and proactive in protecting the safety of the information stored on the device.
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.