How to encourage smartphone safety with your preteen

Whether they don’t understand the importance or are just apathetic to it, preteens often don’t think about security when it comes to their smartphones. While they’ll probably understand that they can’t send text messages to strangers or give out personal details because they want to avoid predators, they may not care as much when it comes to avoiding viruses. Here are a few things that you can do to encourage smartphone safety.

Antivirus App

Even adults need antivirus apps, but they are much better with preteens. Adults tend to have a lot of experience with the Internet. While they aren’t always right, they often know when something looks weird. For example, if you want to download a movie and the file is only 125KB, then you know that it’s probably a virus or malicious file.

A preteen doesn’t know about this. He or she has probably heard about hacking and how devastating it is, but your preteen doesn’t know how it actually works. Having an antivirus app ensures that the smartphone has some security even if your child doesn’t practice safe browsing habits.

These apps will check for viruses on the phone, scan files that are about to be downloaded and shield against incoming malware. Just make sure that the app is always on. Tell your child that turning off the app makes the smartphone vulnerable to hackers.

Phishing Scams

Due to their lack of online experience and willingness to trust others, preteens are especially vulnerable to phishing scams. This is when a hacker sends a message saying that the recipient can win money, download a free game or get some other reward if they just click a link.

Tell your child about these scams and how devastating they are. The information gathered from the scam can destroy the smartphone, lead to identity theft or have other consequences. If your child is unsure whether something is a phishing scam, then tell him or her that you can be consulted.

Most antivirus apps protect against phishing scams, but a few will still get through.

Software Updates

Most mobile operating systems are good when it comes to software updates. Android will automatically update apps and iOS just implemented this feature. Not only that, but preteens often want to update their apps to get new features. At the same time, it’s still a good idea to remind your child to update apps and the OS to keep their smartphone safe.

The reason for this is because these updates address security concerns that people had. They might fix possible problems that the developers found, or correct exploits that hackers are using the get through the app. Having an older app or OS can potentially lead to severe consequences.

Explain Value

This is something that every preteen has to learn at some point. Explain to them just how valuable the smartphone is. Even budget devices cost about $100 to $200, and recklessly using the device isn’t acceptable.

Tell your child that you won’t replace the device if he or she breaks it. Get your child to really understand how valuable the smartphone is, and that it takes a lot of responsibility to use one.

Anti-Theft Apps

Another problem that preteens might face is theft. Smartphones are valuable, and many people will steal one to sell it, take the data inside or just to keep it. Anti-theft apps help with this, but your preteen must understand how to properly use them.

These apps allow you to track a device’s location. Tell your child to never go after the device. Someone might be willing to hurt or kill your child just to keep the stolen device. This information should be given to the police so that they can get the device for you. These apps also ensure that personal information can’t be stolen because you can remotely wipe the smartphone.


Preteens often aren’t very responsible, but a little bit of encouragement and explaining can help your child avoid the common pitfalls of the Internet. Just explain how unsafe the Internet really is, and that you want certain apps installed to keep the device in working order

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