Smartphone Theft Among Kids: The New Bullying?
Do smartphones and other mobile devices make your kids and teens a target for bullies and thieves? The answer is yes. While we’ve discussed in the past how teens and youth aged 14-24 are more than twice as likely to be victims of mobile theft, not all of this theft is from an older demographic. Often these thefts are from their peers.
In the US, one in 5 children aged 8-16 has had their mobile stolen, often by another child or group of children. Mobile theft has become another form of bullying. Christina Tynan-Wood explored this topic on Momster, noting how these devices paint a “huge target” on our kids in school.
The tech devices kids carry to school are worth so much more than our lunch money was. And those headphones announce, in big letters, “I have something expensive in my pocket that would be easy to steal!” Earbuds—and a kid who’s absorbed in whatever’s on the screen of the device he’s connected to—are not only pointing to an expensive item but also saying to any bully or thief that his target will be deaf to his approach and too distracted to notice a thing till it’s too late.
Whether the device is the latest model, was a gift, was school-issued or not, it is worth hundreds of dollars to thieves. You may not think a teen bully is sophisticated enough to steal a mobile device and resell it, but such thinking is erroneous. The top location for device theft in the US? K-12 schools. And for a reason.
As Christina mentions on Momster, the loss of the device to thieves and bullies is not the only worry. What about that bully who wants to spite you? Photos, emails, texts… at the hands of the bully, this information could be devastation both emotional and socially.
Some tips shared by Christina and by Ward Clapham, who works here at Absolute Software, include:
- Use only one (hidden) earbud, if you “need” to use them
- Consider a Bluetooth headset that goes behind your neck and under a collar or hair
- Password protect your device – it won’t stop organized hackers, but it will stop bullies
- Install LoJack for Mobile Devices to lock down and wipe your data and give law enforcement a fighting chance at recovery
Be especially mindful in teaching your kids about safe use of mobile devices and other expensive items when in public. We suggest reviewing our posts on how to avoid being a mobile device robbery victim and smartphone safety for kids and teens. Bring up these tips on an ongoing basis, reiterating the importance of keeping devices hidden and not resisting if a theft does occur. Putting yourself in harm’s way to resist a robbery or attempt a device recovery is never safe for anyone.