Smart Phone & Social Media Safety Guide

Adam Alred • 06 Feb 2023 • 4 min read

According to the Pew Research Center, 97% of American adults have a cellphone, and 85% of those have a smartphone. That means the vast majority of Americans walk around with the Internet always on and always in their pocket. Stanford University reports that 25% of all children have a smartphone by the time of their 10th birthday. The fact that everyone is connected at all times to the Internet can have a lot of perks but also has plenty of drawbacks. One particular area of concern is social media. No matter what age a social media user is, the same safety precautions should be followed to prevent harm to you and your family.

General Cybersafety

Never share addresses, passwords, phone numbers, or schools attended with people you meet online. Each account you have needs a strong, unique password. Never trust links from unknown sources. Think before sharing anything with one: offensive or overly personal content shared online can have real-world consequences, sometimes for life. That’s also why it’s very important to never engage in hate speech or cyberbullying. Another way to keep safe is by regularly checking privacy settings on all devices, apps, and accounts.

Smartphone Safety

Smartphones present some unique safety challenges. Since smartphones are so mobile, they are easier for people to steal or access. Everyone should set a passcode along with fingerprint or facial recognition, and you should never share that passcode with others. Another easy way to protect a device is by updating the software regularly. Be very careful when using public Wi-Fi: most security experts suggest using a VPN for these situations. Set up the phone’s “Find My Phone” or “Find My Device” app to help retrieve the phone if it’s lost or stolen. And only use trusted charging cables: public USB charging stations can sometimes install malware on smartphones.

App Safety

When people use smartphones, 88% of this time is spent using apps. It’s safe to say that most people really love their apps! However, that doesn’t mean that apps are totally safe. For example, apps often collect and share personal data about their users. They may also be used to track you or infect your phone with malware. That’s why it’s so important to only download apps from official app stores. Another reason to only download official apps is to avoid phishing scams. Phishing apps look like official apps but are designed to steal people’s personal information. Other shady apps might claim to be free but actually require in-app purchases to function properly.

Social Media Safety

One danger of social media is how present it is in people’s lives. More than a billion users each month are active on TikTok. And while younger people don’t use it as much as older adults, Facebook still draws almost three billion users to its app each month. But with social sharing comes the temptation to overshare, which can come back to haunt you. The best thing to do is to use privacy settings to control who can see your posts and interact with your profile. Only accept friend requests from people you know. And never share personal, private information on social media.


Cyberbullying is the use of online communication to bully someone, usually by sending threatening messages. It usually involves sending threats to spread rumors or share embarrassing pictures or videos. Cyberbullying can happen through different forms of communication, including text messages, social media, other apps, and websites. It can happen to anyone but is most commonly directed at children and teenagers. Unlike traditional bullying, which is usually confined to school hours, cyberbullying can happen 24/7, and messages, photos, or videos can be easily shared with a large audience. It can also be harder to escape from, as it can follow the victim everywhere they go. Cyberbullying can lead to a wide range of negative effects, including low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and, in severe cases, self-harm or suicide.

Glossary of Terms

Social media and smartphones come with their own vocabularies.

Android: Android is Google’s smartphone operating system. Google does not make all smartphones that use the Android operating system.

Apple: The iPhone is a product of Apple. Apple makes the iOS operating system, and only Apple-produced devices use this operating system.

App: Apps, or applications, are pieces of software installed on smartphones.

GPS: GPS is the acronym for the Global Positioning System, which uses satellites to pinpoint where a device is in the world. GPS powers apps that give users directions along with all apps that track a user’s location.

MMS: MMS stands for Multimedia Messages, which are text messages that also include pictures, voice recordings, or videos.

By Adam Alred

VP of IT @ VoiceNation