Harmless or dangerous? How to use apps safely!

With just a few simple steps, check the privacy settings and activate what the app and the device provide – actually, secure use of apps is quickly guaranteed. If in doubt, invest in the purchase of a trustworthy app and prevent data collection as best you can – that’s how it works.

Safe use of apps starts in the App Store: Even before downloading, it is important to find out about the applications. Many free apps are data eaters. So it’s worth taking a look at the small print before downloading – even if the terms of use are often not clearly laid out and simply formulated. This is where parents can find out what personal data the application stores or even passes on. It is also important to know which functions of the smartphone or tablet the app accesses. These could be the camera, microphone or tracking services. If there are too many or unnecessary permissions, it is better not to install the app.

Recognize reputable offers

To avoid the risk of downloading viruses and other malware with a fake app, apps should only be purchased from trusted providers. If in doubt, search for the app manufacturer on the Internet. It is also suspicious if extensions of well-known game apps are offered, but these have only a very low download count. This leads to the assumption that this is not a trustworthy offer. Better avoid unknown app stores and use only the official platforms for Android or iOS.

Use smartphone settings

Some risks for apps can be resolved by changing the settings of the devices on which the applications are used. Therefore, the security settings of Android and iOS devices should always be activated in advance. This includes enabling the download of apps in the stores only with a password. This gives parents an overview of what is being played. Disabling in-app purchases protects parents from surprises on their credit card or mobile phone bill. Before downloading, parents have the opportunity to practice with their child how to handle personal data carefully and agree on a few rules.

How do I protect my data?

Once the app has been downloaded to the smartphone or tablet, it is important to set the permissions for the application. If an app does not need access to the camera or microphone for its functions, this option should be deactivated if possible. Also, the contacts stored in the device should not be shared carelessly. These permissions can change with every update – therefore, it is a good idea to check regularly.

Some apps offer to connect to an existing social network account. This way, the user does not have to enter any login data especially for the application – so the offer is tempting. With game apps, online friends can also be added automatically, which is often rewarded with gaming benefits. Despite these incentives, it is not advisable to link apps to social networks. This gives manufacturers access to data stored on platforms like Facebook or Instagram – and vice versa. Parents can take such offers as an opportunity to talk to their children about data protection. It is important to explain the mechanisms and intentions behind the enticing possibilities and to agree not to enter personal data. Children should only register on platforms in the presence and with the consent of their parents.

All these measures do not fully protect against inappropriate content, unforeseen costs and uncontrolled data leaks. They support, supplement and facilitate attentive media education by parents, but they do not replace it.