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Does your child own a smartphone? Presenting, the smart Indian mom’s guide to ensuring child safety against mobile security threats.
Smartphone security tips for Indian moms
By Anindita Mishra
Sometimes we Indian moms don’t really listen to reason. We do what our hearts say; or more precisely, what those little brats we bring forth to this world say. Well, the biggest weakness of any parent is a smile on the child’s face and we can do anything to see the child’s face light up with that happy smile.
Even if it entails giving in to their demands and gifting them expensive gadgets that they don’t really need. Like mobile phones, or specifically, smartphones. Yet, do we know that smartphones are a threat to child safety? (Read part 1 on how to keep children safe online too!)
We know in the heart of our hearts that our little darlings don’t really need smartphones. If they need to go out unescorted or stay at home alone, a phone is necessary but any cellphone would do quite well. But no! The kids have their little hearts hooked to those devices that allow them to network with friends, download songs, and check out new YouTube videos and play games.
They whine that their friends strut around with iPhones or tablets, and they can’t have one itsy-bitsy (read cheap) Internet-enabled phone? We don’t want to give in to their demands but then we don’t want them to feel inferior to their friends either, do we? So we stipulate that they have to score really well in the final exams. And they did, leaving us with no options but to purchase that phone. And we do it, shoving aside the good advice offered by child experts on children and smartphones, warnings from well-meaning friends and turning a blind eye to all reports of scams on mobile phones.
So what’s next?
Being a mom, I know what is next – a sense of contentment and pride that is slowly replaced by gnawing doubts and concerns for the child’s safety. But what’s done is done and we can’t change it, without donning the persona of the Devil Incarnate and banning the use of the Internet on the phone. So we, the Smart Moms, find ways to ensure our darlings are safe with their phones and we also get our beauty sleep at night.
1. As soon as you buy the smartphone and even before you or the child download any app, install a smartphone security software. I use McAfee Mobile Security for my Blackberry and I am very satisfied with it
2. Next, set a password to protect the phone. You can find this option under the Security settings/tab on your smartphone. Decide on a ‘difficult to guess password’ and make your child promise he/she will never share it with anyone. Change the password regularly
3. Kids will naturally be eager to download apps. But teach them to do so only from reputed sites such as the Android Market for Android phones, the Ovi Store for Nokia devices or iStore for Apple devices. Avoid dubious sites and tell them how this might harm their phones and data
4. Spend some time with the kids reading user reviews of the apps they want to download. They will also feel secure if you are part of their decision-making process
5. Teach kids about mobile phone security and not to trust apps that ask for unnecessary access permissions, like access to address book or photo gallery
6. Help your child to regularly back up their mobile devices, to prevent any data loss. If you don’t know how to, go to the mobile phone company’s home page and read up on it
7. Do not allow young ones to browse the web on their phones. This has to be a firm rule with related penalties. Malware makers use mobile ads to trick users into installing infected apps
8. Another good smartphone security tip is to keep the Bluetooth and WiFi connections turned off when not needed. If the Bluetooth or WiFi are on, the risk of getting hacked is higher. Also they drain the battery.
9. Educate kids on the ills of geotagging. Go to camera and turn off this feature to prevent others from knowing the exact geographical location of the child
10. Insist that kids access only one social networking site from their phone. This will make it easy for you to keep track of all social networking activities
11. It is better that kids do not take the phones to the playground. They may accidentally damage them
12. Ensure that the phone is switched off during study hours and bedtime.
13. Do not allow the child to take the phone to the bedroom at night
14. Many schools have rules regarding bringing mobile phones to school. Make your child respect that
Well, if you have gone through the smartphone security tips and implemented them, you have earned the right to breathe easy; at least for a while. Parenting is a never-ending task; as you solve one problem another crops up. Till then, enjoy being a supermom!
*Photo credit: Toca Boca (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)
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Rajshri Deshpande, who played the fiery protagonist in Trial by Fire along with Abhay Deol speaks of her journey and her social work.
Rajshri Deshpande as the protagonist in ‘Trial by Fire’, the recent Netflix show has received raving reviews along with the show itself for its sensitive portrayal of the Uphaar Cinema Hall fire tragedy, 1997 and its aftermath.
The limited series is based on the book by the same name written by Neelam and Shekhar Krishnamoorthy, who lost both their children in the tragedy. We got an opportunity to interview Rajshri Deshpande who played Neelam Krishnamoorthy, the woman who has been relentlessly crusading in the court for holding the owners responsible for the sheer negligence.
Rajshri Deshpande is more than an actor. She is also a social warrior, the rare celebrity from the film industry who has also gone back to her roots to give to poverty struck farming villages in her native Marathwada, with her NGO Nabhangan Foundation. Of course a chance to speak with her one on one was a must!
“What is a woman’s job, Ramesh? Taking care of parents-in-law, husband, children, home and things at work—all at the same time? She isn’t God or a superhuman."
The arrays of workstations were occupied by people peering into their computer screens. The clicks of keyboard keys were punctuated by the occasional footsteps moving around to brainstorm or collaborate with colleagues in their cubicles. Most employees went about their tasks without looking at the person seated on either side of their workstation. Meenakshi was one of them.
The thirty-one-year-old marketing manager in a leading eCommerce company in India sat straight in her seat, her eyes on the screen, her fingers punching furiously into the keys. She was in a flow and wanted to finish the report while the thoughts and words were coming effortlessly into her mind.
Natu-Natu. The mellifluous ringtone interrupted her thoughts. She frowned at her mobile phone with half a mind to keep it ringing until she noticed the caller’s name on the screen, making her pick up the phone immediately.
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