Virtual reality apps are popping up everywhere and for children, some of these apps can be educational as well as entertaining and fun.
However, there are some important safety concerns to be aware of when opening up the privacy settings on your phone.
One popular app uses the GPS and your phone’s clock and camera to make animated characters show up on your phone’s screen. You then try to catch them. Kids stay logged into the app to see when the characters are around. This app is a game changer for getting people outside, but there are also concerns.
More kids are out in the neighborhood at night. There are kids who look to be about 8 without an older child or parent in sight. They’ll talk to anyone, and sometimes need technical assistance when the app isn’t working well.
They’re looking down at their phones. A lit device is guiding their way. They’re crossing streets, and not always staying in the most populated or lit areas.
People are talking to each other. I’ve witnessed teens and adults taking interest in younger kids, and handing phones back and forth. Mom-me thinks “how sweet,” but work-me is thinking, “Don’t let a stranger handle your phone.” They’re past Touch ID and have complete access to the device, so what’s stopping them from looking at—or worse, forwarding— emails, texts, photos and other personal information? It’s bad enough if someone has access to my kid’s phone, but think about how many parents are handing off their work phones because their kids don’t have their own.
Play it safe
Virtual reality gaming can be very engaging for children. There are so many positives! Just be aware of the risks, do your research, and use your common sense.
- Make sure kids are accompanied. Parents, if you didn’t consider your children old enough to be out at night, blocks away from your house, a week ago, putting a phone in their hands doesn’t make them safer now.
- Remind everyone about physical safety. There are plenty of things to trip over or fall in if you’re too busy looking at a screen instead of the physical world around you.
- Refresh players on cybersecurity. Make sure a savvy adult or teen is helping the younger kids understand what they’re doing in terms of sharing too much information—either on the device or with others around them.
There’ve been some concerns voiced about how much personal information users share with app builders by logging into the app. Those companies say they’re addressing such concerns, but you may still want to make sure you’re comfortable with what info is accessed by reading all the fine print.
Posted by Amber Coleman, LifeLock Member Services