Smiling teen looking at his phone while holding a credit card.

New Year, New Phone: What’s Changed and How Parents Can Cope

by Screen Time Team on 08/01/2020

Technology moves quickly, and parents can struggle to keep up. There are two major changes coming in particular in 2020; the expansion of both 5G and the “Internet of Things,” abbreviated as “IoT.” Here’s what parents need to know.

5G And Security

The fifth generation of mobile connection standards, hence “5G” for “fifth generation,” has a lot of promise as a technology to change how we access the internet. As fast as home broadband, 5G will make the internet in our pockets even faster.

It’s also, unfortunately, vulnerable to possible problems. While 5G addresses some security problems with the current standard, 4G, among the issues that have been found include using “temporary” requests on the network to find and track phones. Conversely, it will make people who send harassing messages, and know what they’re doing, harder to track, since 5G relies on “antenna density,” essentially nailing an antenna to anything that won’t move in the foreseeable future. Nor will faster speeds solve basic social problems phones introduce.

The good news is that very few phones, likely including the one that was under the Christmas tree, are likely to have 5G radios. Similarly, 5G networks don’t have the spread of 4G yet, so this is more a concern to keep an eye on. If your kids do have 5G phones, parental control apps can help keep kids safe by blocking malware and keeping track of phones independently of internal systems.

Two teens sitting together looking at their phones and smiling.

The Internet of Things And Safety

The exact role of IoT in our daily lives is still an open question. Anybody who’s played with a Google Home Mini or Amazon Echo has probably found that it’s more fun than useful. Still, as processors become cheaper and the internet more ubiquitous, many more items will become “smart,” whether we want them to or not.

This comes with risks. While stories about surveillance cameras being compromised by hackers may draw the headlines, the real risks are much more prosaic. Poorly secured gadgets connected to your WiFi can be used to get into your computer or tablet and steal your credit card numbers, for example. While hackers screaming abuse at children through tools designed to protect them is worrying, it’s far more likely the hackers in question are just interested in using your kids to loot your bank account by breaching their tablets and phones or using them as a stepping stone to your laptop.

Parental control apps can help by keeping apps from being installed without your, or your children’s, knowledge, for example, and it’s equally important kids understand social engineering. If an adult is asking them to delete an app, turn on a device, or change something’s settings via social media or a video game, they should know to stop talking to that person and come to you.

Keeping Pace

Keeping up with changing technology involves keeping a good toolkit in place. Family agreements, discussions of being safe online and how to deal with strangers on the internet are all going to be key to family safety as the world changes ever more quickly. To learn how parental control apps can help, sign up today!

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