Using a smartphone for the first time can be exciting for children and young people, but equally daunting for parents and carers. Parents and carers often tell us that despite their children being tech-savvy, this does not mean they are tech-safe.

Deciding to give a child or young person their first smartphone opens them up to a new and connected world of technology, communication and games. But you will know that it can open up a world of worry and concern for parents and carers.

Around half of the ten-year-olds in the UK now own their own smartphone. If a child in your care is already using a smartphone, you can also use this guide to update the privacy and safety settings on their device.

Explaining why safety and privacy are important helps support a child or young person’s understanding of why these settings are necessary. You might want to talk about what might happen if these aren’t enabled and focus on how safety settings on devices will change as they grow older.

These vital conversations give you the perfect opportunity to encourage the children in your care to continue talking to you about safety and privacy online. It can help to agree that this will be an ongoing conversation, rather than a one-off.

There can be some pressure to quickly get new devices set up and functional for children and young people. SafeSearch filters work to prevent children and young people stumbling across inappropriate content when using search engines. It’s worth taking the time to enable SafeSearch filters on all devices before handing them over.

To help you with privacy and safety settings on smartphones, our online safety experts have created a ‘Your First Phone’ guide on our Online Safety Centre.

This provides a walkthrough on how to enable:

  • Downtime and Screen Time Limit Functions

  • App Access and Time Use Limits

  • In-App Purchases

  • Privacy and Safety Settings

  • Family Sharing Settings

  • Safe Search Filters

Here’s how to access and get the most from it:

Step 1: Visit the Online Safety Centre

Step 2: Navigate to ‘First Phone’

Step 3: Choose the operating system – Either iOS or Android

Step 4: Click through the different safety and privacy settings you can enable to protect the children and young people in your care

Step 5: Share this with other parents and carers so they can also take steps to make the children in their care safer this Christmas and beyond.

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