Steven Childress from Verizon Wireless stopped by the Fox News Edge studio with a few safety tips for parents on how to monitor those devices.
Q) It's common for children who are playing on their parent's phone or tablet to end up in the wrong place - so how can parents limit what their child accesses?
A) There is definitely a benefit to sharing your smart phone or tablet with your child - from simply keeping an unhappy toddler entertained with games when in a public place, to educational apps that can increase childhood development.
The Kids Place App allows parents to transform their phone into a kid-safe device with just the push of a button. Parents can pick out the apps they want their children to have access to, while locking out the essential functions of the phone such as email, calendars and so forth.
Q) What about older kids?
A) Verizon offers a number of free parental controls, some of which are broken down by age group. Those can be found on verizonwireless.com. There are parental controls for children over 7, teenagers, and young adults that allow you to control what kind of content your child accesses on their mobile device, as well as place limits on the time of day they can text, etc.
Something that is on everyone's mind, especially parents of teenagers who are driving - is texting and driving. Apps like iZup, CellSafety, and tXtBlocker use GPS to determine if you are in a moving vehicle. (I believe some of this is gauged by the mph the phone is traveling?) If you are, it blocks texts from being sent or received until you get out of the vehicle. At that time, you get your messages. IZup even has a customizable auto-reply that notifies callers that the recipient is driving and will respond to the text when the trip is complete.
Q) What options do parents have to keep their kids safe and monitor their smartphone usage?
A) Parents can set up Usage Controls on all of the family's devices. This will allow parents to monitor the number of calls, texts, and disable the phone during certain times of the day - such as during school or after bedtime. We're happy to help parents with those controls in any Verizon Wireless store.
Most parents get children phones for safety purposes so the Usage Controls has a Trusted Contacts setting. That way, family members always have the ability to communicate with pre-designated contacts - even when the restrictions are in place (9-1-1 calls are always trusted). Parents will also receive an automatic text message when a line on their account assigned to Usage Controls makes an emergency 9-1-1 call.
Q) How can parents balance safety with entertainment and learning?
A) Introduce children to fun, yet educational apps and games the entire family can participate in.
But parents have to do their homework too! Don't let children download apps without a parent's approval. Do your research because some apps have access to a lot of our personal information.
Choose specific websites, such as Thinkfinity.org, that will engage them in learning while keeping it fun.