Phone safety tips for parents

Protecting kids while respecting privacy

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - In this world of social media and constant contact, two things are true. Most kids have phones and they’re getting them at an earlier age.

So, what can we as parents do to protect our kids and their privacy?

We went to Jonathan Marks, an attorney in Saint Louis who knows the legal ins and outs of privacy laws, to get some tips.

He said protecting your kids starts with ground rules and set the rules right off the bat when it comes to their phones. Marks said it’s much harder to throttle a kid back after they’ve had a lot of freedom with their phone than having limits from the start.

Parent Amy Ybarra, of Jackson, Mo., is on top of her kids privacy when it comes to their devices. She said communication is key.

“It’s just good parenting,” Ybarra said. “Having that conversation with your kiddos like who did they have lunch with and what did you talk about, it goes into their phones and tables as well. We check it once a week so you can catch it before it’s a big deal.”

Here are some things to be aware of. First, know this, people can and do steal pictures off of social media to be used in advertisements or something else. Marks suggested using an app that can put a watermark on your photo to dissuade someone from stealing it. Or post it to social media in a lower resolution to make it harder to use.

Another tip, Marks recommended you limit your privacy settings on things like Facebook and Instagram.

“Limit those setting to family and close friends,” Marks said. “That way only those people can see the photos on your social media.”

Next, be careful when using hashtags on social media. Terms like “bathtime,” “naked baby” or “swimwear” can get the attention of predators.

What do you know about geo tagging? It can show where you like to go or shop and it can be a problem. Marks recommended turning off geo tagging on your phone because it can show that you are in a different location than your kids. Ybarra said they use geo tagging to keep track of her kids but they don’t use certain apps that track them.

And remember, kids are smart. They probably know more about their phone than you.

Parents have to be involved and learn as much as they can. Know their passwords. You’re paying for the phone, so you should be able to check it whenever you ask.

Keep an eye on their social media accounts and beware of the second social media account your child may have that you don’t know about. Marks said that actually happens a lot.

We spoke to some parents about some good apps for us to keep an eye on our kids.

Two kept popping up. “Life 360” tracks your child’s phone. It can tell you where they are at any moment, if their phone needs to be charged and even how fast they’re driving.

And the “Our Pact” app allows you to limit their data usage. You can turn off data, for instance, from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. and can block certain apps from their phones.

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