How often have you been busy making dinner or in the middle of something when one of your children asks if it’s okay to download the latest app or game on their device?
Sometimes it seems easier to say yes, especially if, at first glance, the game or app looks fairly innocent and popular.
Unfortunately, it may not always be a good option for them.
Here are a few things you can do quickly when deciding on safe apps for your children:
- Look out for the chat function
Does the app or game have chat functionality with uninvited users? (This can sometimes be turned off in the games settings).
Chat functionalities in games for children are usually an easy way for predators to target young kids and can gain their trust quickly.
If the app asks for a user name, email address, Apple/Google account or registration of some type when you are installing it, this may be an indicator. However, some apps and games have the option to skip this part.
- Age range is only a guide; be careful
The recommended age for the app is decided by the developer (self-regulated) so keep this in mind.
Your child may fall within the recommended age range, but the app still may not be suitable. Click the down arrow next to the age range for more information on why the developer chose that range (for example mild violence, fantasy, simulated gambling etc).
- Let others do some of the work for you
A quick scan of the Ratings and Reviews will provide you with more information, such as if the app has any major faults including frequently crashing, or requires real money to progress levels.
The Ratings and Reviews can also tell you whether the app is a “Decoy App” such as Calculator+, (which looks like a calculator but hides photos and videos).
- Limit the risk with parental controls
What parental controls are available? With very young children, you may want to disable features such as in-app purchases or the camera/microphone (this can also be done in your Settings).
- Give me a demo
Ask your child to show you how to use the app (kids are usually keen to share their knowledge!). This can provide you with an opportunity to talk about the dangers of disclosing personal information or educating your child about what to do if they come across unsuitable material.
Compiled by Perimeter Guardian, a technology-based company that provides protection to school communities across Australia. It partners with schools to provide protection particularly in the areas of new technologies and cyber safety.