Cellphones are a wonderful tool for keeping parents in contact with their kids. However, parents have a right to be concerned about what their kids are looking at online. Fortunately, there are ways to block web traffic on a child's cellphone to keep the mobile experience safe and age-appropriate.
One option for parents is to contact the mobile carrier and ask it to turn off the phone's ability to access the Internet. However, this will prevent children from accessing even safe Internet sites or sending emails, rendering their phones relatively useless.
A less drastic option is to only block web traffic that is inappropriate for your child. Even though the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act is helping to keep kids' data safe online, there is still a lot of content on the Web that most parents want to keep away from their kids. The best way to block access to these sites is to remove the standard browser from your child's cellphone and replace it with one that only allows access to safe websites.
On the iPhone, the standard iOS browser, Safari, can be turned off using the general settings on the child's cellphone. To make it difficult for kids to access the standard Internet browser on Android systems, first delete the icon from the home screen, then go to the page that shows all the applications on the phone, tap and hold the icon, and choose "hide" from the menu.
Next, install an alternative browser from the Android Marketplace (the icon labeled Play on Android phones) or the Apple Store. According to the New York Times, one of the best browsers for the Apple iPhone is the K9 Web Protection Browser. This is a fast, modern browser with all the functionality you would expect, such as the ability to zoom, bookmark pages and copy and paste, but it won't let kids access sites that could contain inappropriate content. If your child's cellphone is an Android, then the Ranger Pro Safe Browser is a good alternative to the standard browser.
Parents can prevent children from downloading a new unfiltered browser or any inappropriate apps. On the Android operating system, you need to go to the Settings section of the menu and set a Personal Identification Number, which you can use to change settings on your child's cellphone. Next, go to the Content Filtering tab and change the Android Marketplace settings so that your child can't download apps that are rated mature. Your child will need the PIN you just set to change this setting back, so keep it secret. The equivalent setting on the iPhone can be found in the Restrictions tab of the general settings menu.
As well as changing the settings on their child's cellphone, parents should also speak to their child about the dangers of technology. Children should be encouraged to use the Internet responsibly, respecting their parents' wishes about the sites they visit.
Photo courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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