HOW CAN I PUT PARENTAL CONTROLS ON MY CHILD’S MOBILE PHONE?
Reliable Computers March 2016
WE ENCOURAGE ADULTS TO HAVE OPEN CONVERSATIONS WITH YOUNG PEOPLE ABOUT THE RESPONSIBILITY THAT GOES ALONG WITH OWNERSHIP OF A CONNECTED DEVICE
Many children at school today own and use a mobile phone. Whether it’s for the perceived safety of being able to reach a parent, or for the status appeal of carrying the latest smartphone, by age fourteen 84% of children surveyed had their own cell phone.
RISKS VERSUS REWARDS
Mobile devices are increasingly playing a part in many of the issues raised with us by students, parents and teachers. Cybersafety challenges include:
- Sexting or the sending or inappropriate texts and images, often by minors
- Text or mobile bullying where children with a mobile can be sent threatening messages or a video of an embrassing moment or school fight can be shared or uploaded to YouTube
- Time management or cost issues that can be caused by teens sending hundreds of txts a day or staying contactable late into the night
- Location based concerns where smartphones can automatically share a child’s current location on social media sites or apps and perhaps with friends they don’t know that well.
There are of course great benefits to children having mobiles too – the ability for parents to keep in contact and advise on late pickups or revise plans and track location if ‘stranger danger’ is a real worry.
But often we are asked by parents and caregivers how they can perhaps filter, lock down or just generally control or monitor their chid’scellphone to do any of the following:
- prevent the use of the camera
- block calls or texts from certain people
- set strict usage limits or times for internet access
- prevent file sharing over Bluetooth or the installation of downloaded apps
It should be remembered that no filtering software on a PC is 100% efficient in preventing access to material available on the internet.
There will always be weaknesses in systems and users may actively try to circumvent the software – the same may be likely for mobile controls just as it is on a desktop or laptop computer.
We encourage adults to have open conversations with young people about the responsibility that goes along with ownership of a connected device – issues to discuss can include cyberbullying; internet and mobile safety such as friending and communicating with people you don’t know offline; and not sharing information that should be kept confidential or may be used to bully or embarass you later on (in the case of sexting photos, drunken pics or threatening or abusive texts).
If you install monitoring software or parental control software on your child’s phone we would encourage you to discuss the reasons behind this parental choice with them.
PARENTAL CONTROL SOFTWARE FOR MOBILES, SMARTPHONES AND TABLETS
Both Google’s Android mobile operating system and Apple’s iOS come with parental control ‘restriction’ settings that can limit what users can do, install, browse and access.
We have also listed below a small selection of apps or software for various devices but we have not tested these and would welcome feedback from current users. NetSafe recommends you read app reviews and evaluate a free trial before purchasing.
Some software suites also offer monitoring and logging of websites and app usage but we strongly encourage parents to discuss this with their children to build a sense of trust and not to install apps that run in stealth mode.
Android Restricted profiles
Google’s guide to limiting features and content that user accounts can access on devices running Android 4.3 and higher
With Android you can filter the Play Store to only show apps that are appropriate for children and restrict costly in-app purchases. You can also set up user accounts with restricted permissions that can only access certain apps on the device. Some handset manufacturers also have additional settings or modes/apps that help with filtering.
There are also many apps in the Android marketplace to filter adult content and even monitor calls, texts and web activity.
Vodafone Guardian app
Free for Vodafone Prepay and On Account plans
Set time restrictions and time limits, block apps and get reports via the paid service
Apple iOS – iPhone, iPod Touch
Apple’s guide to iPhone, iPad and iPod touch parental controls
Apple’s Restrictions settings can be used to prevent purchasing on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and prevent the Safari browser, Siri assistant or other apps from being used.
The iOS operating system can also control which apps have access to your private information and the use of GPS based Location Services.
See also our advice on Apple Parental Controls for iPad.
Multiple operating systems
Intel Security Safe Family
Free for 6 months – grant and block access with time limits and age-based rules
Parental control software for multiple devices, free for 30 days
Contact Reliable Computers
Need help setting it up, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and start your support request online and we’ll connect you to an expert.
‘Locky’ ransomware scam hits tens of thousands of Australian computers
Hackers are using Australia Post and personal information gleaned from social media to scam victims.
Cyber criminals are scraping personal information from thousands of Australians’ social media profiles and using it to trap victims with ransomware — a type of malware that freezes computer files and demands money to unlock them. The ransom-ware — appropriately titled ‘Locky’ — is spreading quickly round the web in various guises, but security experts have found it in yet another AustraliaPost email scam.
What makes the scam so dangerous is that it addresses the recipient with personal information such as their full name, location, workplace and job description — all gleaned from their social media profile and designed to dupe them into thinking the email is legitimate.
After Locky activates, it displays this message as the victim’s desktop background.
MailGuard, the anti-virus and security company which discovered the scam, said hackers were using “highly advanced” scraping software to scan social media profiles and automatically deliver the malicious email to tens of thousands of victims.
Linus Information Security Solutions director Mike Thompson said there was “no doubt” a scam’s effectiveness was linked to the level of trust it could establish with a victim.
The AusPost parcel scam containing Locky.
“I have asked people if they would open an email and attachment if it appeared to come from a trusted source and it contained references to personal information that is often publicly displayed on social media, such as a local sports club, alumni etc,” Mr Thompson said. “The response has typically been yes.” Mr Thompson said users should keep such personal information off social media platforms, or “develop a very good malware radar”.
Sophisticated malware protection software was not enough to stop all attacks, he said, and people needed to be aware of social engineering techniques which were designed to establish trust.
In one devastating case, it disabled a US hospital’s IT systems, forcing staff to rely on pen and paper for days and costing the organisation a ransom worth $US17,000 ($22,772) to decrypt the files. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has been warning the public about Australia Post parcel scams for years. Last year it estimated Australians had lost more than $80,000 to email parcel scams.
The watchdog advises Australians to delete any emails claiming to be from Australia Post about an “undeliverable package” and to call the company directly to double check if they are unsure. It also advises people regularly back up their computer files, and do not click on links or download files in unexpected emails — especially executable (.exe) files or zip files. The AusPostLocky scam has a zip file (condensed file) attached.
ACCC’s five tips for protecting yourself against an AusPost scam
- Australia Post will put a notice in your letter box if a package was undeliverable. Delete any email claiming to be from Australia Post about an undelivered package.
- Do not click on links or download files in emails you receive out of the blue — especially if they are executable (.exe) files or zip files. These files are likely to contain malware.
- If you are suspicious about a ‘missed’ parcel delivery, call the company directly to verify that the correspondence is genuine. Independently source the contact details through an internet search or phone book — do not rely on numbers provided.
- Buy yourself (or your business) a stand-alone hard drive. These have become relatively inexpensive and can save you a lot if your computer is infected by malware or ransomware.
- Regularly back-up your computer’s data on a separate hard drive. If your computer is infected by malware or ransomware you can restore the factory settings and easily re-install all of your software and data.
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