CyberSafe Parent: Kids and cell phones

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Rose Suerdieck is a mother of four who shares common concerns with most parents these days.

“It’s so scary,” Suerdieck worried. “I just don’t want my young children falling victim to it.”

Suerdieck, of course, is talking about cell phones. Her oldest is 10-years-old and is on the fringe. She wants one but doesn’t need one.

“We do have an emergency phone and that is only for when she does not have an option for another adult,” Suerdieck said.

Abe Thompson is retired from the Navy and used to work for the National Security Agency. Now he runs cyber security company Secureset.

“You need to start thinking about what’s safe,”  Thompson said.  “How do I manage this, literally, a potential problem coming to my home.”

Thompson recommends constant monitoring of your child’s online activity.

“Controls you can find in the settings of devices,”  Thompson said. “When parents aren’t in the room things happen. So, you want to set hours of acceptable use policy.”

He adds to step back over time as your child displays more and more responsibility.

“Because, honestly if we do simply control they’re going to go nuts when they have complete freedom,” he said.

According to the Pew Research Center, 77 percent of kids have cell phones, 56 percent of them are between 8 and 12-years-old. On average, the typical age is at 12.1 years.

When parents aren’t able to be in the room to monitor the activity, certain applications help. They often come at a price, but Thompson says it’s worth the investment in your family’s safety.

Until Suerdieck is ready to give her child more responsibility, she takes comfort in knowing there are some safety nets out there.

“She’s 10 and we know that as she gets older we’re going to have a whole new set of circumstances have to deal with this. So we want to work our way into it,” she said.

Thompson offers classes via Secureset, and there are also weekly events with guest speakers and information.

For locations and future events, you can also join the Colorado Springs Cybersecurity Meetup.

Here are a list of suggested applications you can download to help monitor your child’s activity:

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