TETTNANG, Germany--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The biggest annual technology migration of the year is happening now as millions of students and their new smartphones head off to school. Many parents and educators are concerned about the potential these devices have to distract students and disrupt the learning process – and have them looking for ways to minimize the disruption without having to physically confiscate the devices.
For the 2016 school year, there are 35.4 million students enrolled in pre-K through 8th grade, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. And according to data collected by CTIA Wireless, 56 percent of children ages 8 to 12 have a cell phone. Other research studies find the average age that kids get their first cell phone is 6.
While most parents who provide a mobile phone to their young children do so for security reasons, it is very easy for those phones and their gaming and social media and messaging apps to become distractions that disrupt the learning process. Yet a Sprint survey finds that only 32% of parents have mobile device controls in place, and only 17% have different rules for the school week than the weekend.
Put that Smartphone on a Smart Leash
Moderating smartphone use is not about just restricting Internet access; it’s about making sure different phone functions are used appropriately at the right place and time. One app that can help parents is Avira’s free AppLock+, which puts users in control of each app independently on their Android smartphone – even when the device is out of arms reach.
AppLock+ lets parents limit gaming and social apps like Facebook, WhatsApp and Skype by their choice of PIN password and time of day. Or parents can use the Schedule Lock feature to automatically lock apps at a given time, for instance, on school days between 8 AM and 1 PM, during homework or dinner time at home. This option can keep kids off Facebook Messenger while in class or doing their homework.
Parents can also block access to selected apps with the Geo Lock restrictions at a given location, e.g. at school or the playground. By entering the address on the map and determining a radius of 1 - 10 miles around it they can establish a “smartphone safe zone.” Within it, selected apps will be locked.
AppLock+ can be downloaded for free in the Google Play store with premium features available for purchase as well.
The following tips and tricks help parents to lay the groundwork for responsible smartphone use. They work best when used openly and honestly in partnership with the children – not as a stealth spying method.
- Agree to rules before your children will get the first smartphone
- Choose the right smartphone, and service plan which allows you to stay in control of cost, e.g. with a prepaid mobile phone
- Set a password for your children’s smartphone and save important phone numbers, e.g. for emergencies
- Set a time budget for when your children are allowed to use the smartphone, what websites they can visit, and what apps they can download
- Talk and listen to your children about their smartphone use
- Remind your children that anything they send from their smartphones can be easily forwarded and shared
- Teach your children never to reveal smartphone numbers or passwords online
- Review smartphone records for any unknown numbers and late night phone calls and texts
- Teach your children not to trust tempting messages of any sort, such as free stuff and discounts but to delete those messages and not to click any links
- Have a Lost-and-Found plan: get an app that allows to locate the physical location of the smartphone
- Don't text your kids during the school day. Unless it's a real emergency – like, you're going to the hospital
Last but not least a “think in the box strategy” could help as well: Having a box with chargers for phones in the living room, so that the phones are not in the bedrooms at night, might be a good idea for the entire family – not just the kids.
Avira protects people in the connected world – enabling everyone to manage, secure, and improve their digital lives. The Avira umbrella covers a portfolio of security and performance applications for Windows, Android, Mac, and iOS. In addition, the reach of our protective technologies extends through OEM partnerships. Our security solutions consistently lead in independent tests for detection, performance, and usability. Avira is a family-owned company with headquarters near Lake Constance, in Tettnang, Germany, and additional offices in Munich, Bucharest, Beijing, and Silicon Valley. A portion of Avira's sales support the Auerbach Foundation, which assists education, children, and families in need. For more information, please visit www.avira.com.