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Practical functions on the smartphone: WLAN, mobile data & Co.

3 minutes reading time
6-17 years
Foto: RODNEA Productions/pexels.com

Whether at home or on the road – with the smartphone, access to the Internet is possible almost everywhere. There are different ways to connect mobile devices to the network. The WLAN at home should be password protected. Anyone who uses mobile data must pay attention to the data volume. Surfing on public WLANs means being careful with personal data.

WLAN – how it works

WLAN is the abbreviation for the English term “Wireless Local Area Network” and means in German: “Kabelloses lokales Umgebungsnetzwerk”. The wireless local area network is tied to a specific location, for example, home or office. Data transmission works via radio and is limited to the area around the router location. Payment is made via a contract with a telecommunications company, often in combination with telephone and television. Many contracts offer a high or even unlimited data volume.

“Give me your Wi-Fi password real quick!”. Those who have guests often share not only the living room, but also Internet access with family and friends. For WLAN access at home, you should set a password and change it regularly. It is important to give the password only to trusted persons and to set up guest accesses if possible.

Don’t be afraid to switch off: set the WLAN provisioning times so that the WLAN is switched off for a time during the day, for example at night. Taking a break from screen time can be good for the whole family.

Public WLAN – how to use it safely

There are often public WLAN hotspots in places like train stations, restaurants, or squares. This can be practical, because they are free of charge and save your own data volume. In most cases, public WLANs operate via a login with or without a password, during which consent to the terms of use is requested.

Caution: Public WLANs offer little control and security. They are usually not as well encrypted as the private WLANs at home and offer points of attack for hackers – keyword data theft. Use only trusted public WLANs and pay close attention to the correct name of the network. If you are unsure: as a precaution, do not share any personal information and do not log in to any accounts such as email or social media accounts. Avoid sensitive transactions such as online banking or online shopping.

Mobile data – Internet on the move

The mobile data connection enables access to the Internet via the user’s own mobile communications contract. A good network reception must be available for this. When using mobile data, it is important to observe the data volume specified in the contract. Therefore, have an eye on your consumption. If possible, don’t download apps or watch long videos. Gaming apps also consume a lot of data volume. Additional costs could arise here. Check your app permissions: certain actions should only happen when you have access to a WLAN, for example downloading large files such as photos or voice messages.

Private hotspot & tethering – connect multiple devices

The private hotspot (or mobile WLAN hotspot) works like a bridge: via it, the Internet access of one device is transmitted to another device. For example, mobile data from the cellular network can also be used on the laptop. This process is called tethering. A hotspot can be set up via the settings, but not every smartphone and not every cell phone contract offer this function.

Attention: If you activate a hotspot, it will be displayed as WLAN for all devices in the vicinity. Therefore, be sure to protect the hotspot with a secure password. Pay attention to your data volume and battery consumption: Video conferencing, streaming services and online games draw a particularly large amount of energy and data. If you share your mobile data with third parties, you are liable for violations of the law by the users, such as illegal streaming. Share your private hotspot only with trusted people in your immediate circle.

This is what you and your child should pay attention to

Children and young people want to be online wherever possible and access the Internet quickly. Set up a secure WLAN connection at home. With routers such as the FRITZ!Box, you can make parental control settings and set a blocking time, for example. Agree on rules to whom the password may be disclosed. Explain to your child the difference between the use of WLAN and mobile data and encourage him or her to save data. Protect your child’s data: talk to your child about the risks of public WLANs and hotspots and check the settings on the smartphone together.

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