Consumer First Alert: How to talk to kids about smart phone safety

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - So your child got their first smart phone for Christmas. Now what? Consumer experts say there's a very important conversation to be had about privacy and safety.

Stock photo. Female texting on phone, Photo Date: 12/10/2011. Jhaymesisviphotography / CC BY 2.0


The website Common Sense Media is a helpful resource. Check out the "Parents Need to Know" tab on the top of the home page.

Under parental controls, check out the talking points and guidelines.

The website recommends talking with your kids about why you're settling rules and monitoring what they're doing on their phone. Tell them you're not spying on them, but you will be making sure they're safe and productive.


Decide what you think is an appropriate amount of time for them to be spending on the phone. Set limits on screen time.

If you have an iPhone, tap the "Settings" icon. Find Screen Time. From there, you can set how much time they spend on social media or apps. You can also set downtime--that blocks the phone so they can't be up using it at night.


If you're concerned about kids getting into risky conversations, consider downloading some apps to help you monitor them.

The Bark app-- monitors text messages, social networks and emails. You will need your child's passwords for their apps and accounts to use it. It doesn't give you access to those accounts, but it gives you an alert when something looks suspicious.

Bark says it can help detect cyberbullying, self-harm and conversations with sexual predators.


Set your guidelines right away--with clear expectations. Be consistent.

Talk about safety. Know who your child is talking to online.

Make sure your children choose screen names that don't include identifying information.

Be open--if you find something questionable or believe they're spending too much time online, you'll need to have a conversation.

Encourage them to set good habits for phone use when they go back to school.