First phones: safe setup

setting upHere’s a few easy steps you can take to make that new phone safer

Internet access - consider the extent to which you would like your child to be able to access the internet.  Remember that almost all mobile devices via WiFi, which is freely available in many places, so your child may be able to access the internet on their device even if you haven’t provided them with a cellular data plan.  If you prefer your child not browse the internet on their device use the parental controls or restrictions available on the device to remove or disable the web browsing apps (Safari, Chrome etc).  If your child will be accessing the internet you may want to limit the device to only access sites that you have selected, or prevent access to explicit content.

Apps - think about whether you would like your child to be able to download and install apps on their device, whether they need your approval and how purchases will be paid for.  Remember that many apps allow in-app purchases (purchasing additional content via the app once it has been installed) which can be expensive, while other apps may allow your child to access the internet, communicate with others and share their details and location.  Parental controls will again allow you to manage apps - you can prevent access to app stores entirely, or require a password for any purchases (including adding free apps).  In-app purchases and location services (tracking and in some cases sharing a device’s location) can also be restricted.

Social media - socialising online is likely to be a top priority for many children who have just got a new phone.  Parents may already be familiar with and use popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, however new social apps are emerging all the time.  When deciding whether a social media app is appropriate for your child you might like to consult this guide to social apps from the Office of the eSafety Commissioner: Remember that age restrictions apply to most social media accounts, with most intended for people aged thirteen and up.  Many will be available via websites as well as apps, so if you choose to restrict your child’s access to a particular app, make sure that the corresponding website is also unavailable on their device.

Passwords - children like to share with their friends, but you may not want them sharing their device or their account passwords.  Help them come up with strong passwords for any accounts, as well as a PIN or other security feature to lock their phone, and discuss the importance of keeping passwords secret.  For added security you may prefer to use a parent’s email address or phone number for password recovery or login approval.

Where, when and for how long? Establish ground rules about device usage, including when devices can and cannot be used.  You may want to consider whether devices should be used only in shared areas of the home, if they can be taken into bedrooms overnight, and if there is an agreed time at which all devices are tuned off.  If necessary, most devices will allow you to manage when the device can be used via the parental controls

Talk -
communicate regularly and openly with your child about device use and their online activity.  Ensure they have someone they can talk to who can provide assistance and advice if they encounter issues online, or if something has made them upset, worried or confused.

Useful resources

More helpful advice and practical tips for keeping children safe online can be found at iParent:
Telstra’s ‘My First Phone’ agreement is a good place to start talking with your child about the responsibilities that come with mobile device ownership:

Note: Parental control features vary from device to device. 
Restrictions on Apple devices using iOS 12 and above can be accessed via ‘Screen Time’ in the Settings app, or via ‘Restrictions’ in the Settings app in older iOS versions. 
Parental controls can be accessed on Android devices via the settings for the Google Play app and by using Google’s Family Link app.