To some, the term ‘mobile’ means absolutely nothing. To me, a ‘mobile’ takes me back to 2001. I was 11 years old and my parents brought me my first ever phone. It was bulky, texts would take several hours to write and if you dropped it out the window, it would probably survive without a scratch. Not only that, but the text alert was Morse code for SOS . . . feeling nostalgic? Nevertheless, these phones were quite literally, the ‘must-have’ product for the early 2000s.
Fast forward several years and suddenly mobiles began to have cameras! You would run into a school and boast that you took a picture (albeit a very fuzzy one) and then spend the rest of the day complaining you had no memory left. You could also Bluetooth in your favourite Linkin Park song and share it around - providing you had half an hour to do the transfer. Despite this, it was staggering just how amazing everything seemed back then.
It’s hardly cutting edge when you look at modern technology today though. Nowadays, cameras and music are all staples of the modern smartphone. I could quite easily pull out my phone, choose a random song and be listening to it within several seconds, not to mention the thousand-odd photos I have of my dog.
But while the older models may seem primitive, the one thing I didn’t have to worry about, was:
A: My own safety
and B: stumbling upon something I shouldn’t have.
Back then, Snake 2 and the calculator were the only means of entertainment. Nowadays though, Smartphones allow us to watch videos, manage our social media, even book plane tickets! If you’d have told me that 15 years ago, I wouldn’t have believed it.
But while it’s amazing and consistently improving, we have to ask ourselves, is everything we have access to suitable for the whole family? ‘Half of ten-year-olds now own their own smartphone. Between the ages of nine and ten, smartphone ownership doubles - marking an important milestone in children’s digital independence’’ (Ofcom – Media use and Attitudes Report) Before they start secondary school they will more than likely have access to the internet. To be fair, it’s difficult not to, the whole world pretty much revolves around it! While it’s important to keep up to date with the modern trend, it’s also important to take any measures you feel are necessary when buying them their first smartphone.
Most models are now equipped with parental controls that allow you to set up app management and disable access to certain content under a private password held by you. Not only that but you can disable in-app purchases and set age restrictions on certain media. You can also set controls on your tablets, home computers, and even game consoles. You can even set up their own child safety search engine https://swiggle.org.uk/. Setting up the device properly is very much down to you!
Despite all this though, there’s one thing to keep in mind. The internet is amazing and regardless of what challenges there may be, your family also needs to experience what a wonderful thing the internet can be. Fortnite, Youtube, Roblox, these are all things every young person should experience. With technology constantly moving forward, we have to make sure we can keep up. Blocking everything off might just leave them behind.
So when you’re deciding on whether a Smartphone is the right gadget to buy, just remember; having access to the internet is part of our modern culture. There may be unlimited access throughout the world but we need to be aware in equal measure, the positives and the negatives around the challenges and opportunities it creates.
If you need any guidance on parental controls or password management, the links below provide up-to-date information about how to keep your devices safe. There are also checklists for social media available, making sure they are also kept secure.
If you ever end up in a situation where you need to report harmful content online and you are above the age of 13, rest assured Report Harmful Content is here to help – www.reportharmfulcontent.com