FBI Portland
Beth Anne Steele
(503) 460-8099
September 5, 2017

FBI Tech Tuesday: Building a Digital Defense for School Kids and Cell Phone Safety

Welcome to the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment. This week: building a digital defense to protect your kids as they head back to school with cell phones.

Summer is over, and it’s time to pack up the backpacks and lunch bags for another school year. And, if your kids are headed back to class with a cell phone tucked in their pockets, they are not alone. More and more kids are getting phones by the time they enter middle school—and some are toting their phones through elementary school hallways.

It’s a great way for you to keep in touch with your student through the day...and, should you so desire, there are plenty of apps to help you keep track of your kid’s movements minute by minute. But, parents and kids alike need to recognize the risks that come bundled with that device, too.

Here are some basic phone tips to keep your child safe:

  • The phone should default to a locked setting. The only people who should have that access code are the child and the parent.
  • Beyond that, parents should know every password to every device and every password to every app on that device. Sure you want your kids to have some privacy as they grow up, but they are still kids. You pay the bill, and as long as that child is a child, she is your responsibility.
  • Check the privacy and security settings on the phone and the apps. Check regularly to make sure they are up-to-date.
  • Learn about how photos are geo-tagged. Even if you are discreet about what you post, your photos could be tagged in the meta-data with your child’s exact location. Do you want just anybody to know what school your child goes to or what field his team uses for soccer practice? You should be able to turn this feature off in settings.
  • Teach your kids to never respond to calls, texts, or e-mails from unknown numbers or people. Scam artists and predators are more than happy to victimize them, regardless of age.

If your child is old enough to have and carry a phone, then it’s also time to have a conversation with him about potential risks.

Next week, we'll take this discussion a step further and talk about building a digital defense against cyber bullying.

If you or your child has been victimized by an online crime, make a report to the FBI. You can file an online report at the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or call your FBI local office.