Is ‘location services’ switched off?

3If you agreed to get your child a mobile precisely so that you could keep tabs on where they are, then you’ve got to weigh up the pros and cons, safety-wise, of your child’s phone having location services switched on. It’s a tricky one – Vodafone has a detailed parents’ guide on the safety and privacy issues raised by location services.
Essentially, mobile phone location apps aren’t necessarily provided by mobile networks and both GPS and WiFi can locate and communicate your child’s location without their mobile phone operator being aware of it. Check the phone’s settings, so you know where location services are on or off. Alternatively, disable the GPS or WiFi on your child’s mobile.
With your teenagers, stress to them that if they use a location service alongside their social networking profile, e.g. Facebook, everyone on their ‘friends’ list will know where they are at any time, so that they have to be 100% certain they only allow ‘real’ friends who they know and trust to locate them.
Does your child know that they should never give out their mobile number to strangers?
Our parents told us never to talk to strangers and we in turn need to stress to our children that they mustn’t give away any personal information to people they’ve never met before via their mobile and the internet.
Vodafone and other mobile phone operators have parents’ guides that merit close reading and Childnet International has a longer, more detailed version of this checklist.
And finally…
If the lack of control over the whole Internet-on-mobiles malarkey gives you the vapours, you could always resort to ‘spy’ software – you get a complete report of every text sent, call made and URL visited from your child’s mobile. The potential downside is that you risk invading your child’s privacy and, ethics aside, ruining any chance you may have of them being open with you. Another tricky parenting conundrum. You can discuss this, and other issues, in Talk: child internet safety.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *