Back to School in the Mobile Age Means Back to Basic Parenting

Published on: 4th February 2020

Keeping children safe from predators means parents must now ensure their protection extends to the digital realm. “A parent’s physical protection is no longer adequate in our connected age where the digital and real worlds collide,” says Ilonka Badenhorst, General Manager of SA’s Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association (WASPA).

Fortunately, says Ms Badenhorst, that same heightened awareness that has kept children safe from everything from scary spiders to slippery steps also works in the connected world. “As parents and children alike ease back into the school year, millions of memorable moments will be captured and mostly on mobile devices,” Ms Badenhorst says.

As the industry representative for South Africa’s mobile content and application developers with a concomitant consumer protection mandate, WASPA’s best advice for parents concerned about their children’s safety at school is to ensure there is no overt or subtle location information provided in any digital content involving their precious charges.

“Potential predators would find date and location information stamped on digital photos useful, as they would identifying features in photos such as school uniform insignia, vehicle branding and street signs which should all be blurred by parents before adding to social media,” Ms Badenhorst advises.

She adds that parents should make investigating and getting to grips with social media, handset and other relevant digital privacy settings a firm resolution for 2020. “In the digital world, knowledge is power. Parents should become familiar with their children’s school’s digital media policy and if there isn’t one, they should champion a school policy that sets out when, where and by whom children can be photographed,” says Ms Badenhorst.

Digital parenting using the many content and applications tools developed by firms like WASPA’s wireless application service provider (WASP) members can also help keep connected children safe as South Africa embarks on a new school year that should be full of excitement and promise for the country’s children and free of potential safety threats.

A non-profit organisation, WASPA was founded on 26 August 2004 with the full support of the three major SA network operators. Fostering confidence in the WASP industry through responsible self-regulation remains a key focus of the Association, as does consumer protection.

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