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A Parent’s Guide to Mobile Terminology

As parents, it is crucial to familiarise ourselves with the terminologies associated with our children’s phones. This comprehensive guide aims to demystify mobile terminologies such as APN, VPN, PUK, PAC and beyond.

APN (Access Point Name)

Access Point Name, or APN, is a crucial setting that allows mobile devices to connect to the internet via a cellular network. It acts as a gateway, determining the network settings required for internet access. Parents should verify APN settings to ensure a stable and secure internet connection for their child’s phone.

VPN (Virtual Private Network)

Virtual Private Network, or VPN, technology establishes a secure and encrypted connection between a device and the internet. VPNs enhance online privacy and security by routing internet traffic through a private server. In the context of a child’s mobile phone it goes without saying, they are not recommended, so be sure to read our guide to using a VPN on a mobile phone.

PUK (Personal Unblocking Key) and PIN (Personal Identification Number)

PUK, or Personal Unblocking Key, is a unique code provided by the mobile network operator to unlock a SIM card that has been blocked due to multiple incorrect PIN entries. PIN, or Personal Identification Number, secures the SIM card. Teaching children the significance of entering the correct PIN, or preferably leaving the SIM PIN setting alone, helps prevent SIM card blocking, while keeping the PUK code in a secure place is crucial for unblocking the SIM card if needed.

PAC (Porting Authorisation Code)

Porting Authorisation Code, or PAC, is used when transferring a mobile phone number from one network provider to another.

IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity)

IMEI is a unique identifier for mobile devices, represented by a 15-digit number. Parents should make a note of their child’s device IMEI as it assists in reporting lost or stolen phones to the authorities or network provider and helps with the unlocking process when handing down a phone if needed.

SIM (Subscriber Identity Module)

A SIM card is a small card inserted into a mobile device that authenticates the device on a network. It stores essential information, including the user’s phone number and network authentication data. Parents should ensure their child’s phone is powered off before installing a SIM card, and make sure it is properly inserted. Also that the SIM is pushed out to the right size.

MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service)

MMS enables users to send multimedia content, such as pictures, videos, and audio files, via text messages. ParentShield blocks all MMS usage, emphasising the avoidance of sharing inappropriate or sensitive content and avoiding unexpected bills.

VoLTE (Voice over LTE)

VoLTE enables voice calls to be made over a 4G LTE network. We would advise keeping this setting tuned off as ParentShield does not support VoLTE calls to preserve the recording and blocking features.

Personal Hotspot

The personal hotspot feature allows a mobile device to share its internet connection with other mobile devices. Parents may wish to connect their children’s phones to their personal hotspot during long car journeys to preserve the child’s mobile data allowance.


Roaming enables mobile device usage and services while travelling outside the home network’s coverage area. Roaming should always be enabled for our users, as ParentShield is a permanently roaming network. As always, ParentShield guarantees no unexpected fees when a child uses their phone abroad, you’ll just need to add the Super Roaming bolt-on while there.

GPS (Global Positioning System)

GPS is a satellite-based navigation system that enables devices to determine precise location information. It powers various location-based services, such as navigation and geolocation. Parents should set up location tracking on their child’s Android phone or set up location tracking on their child’s iPhone, to see where they are via the phones built-in GPS when required; perfect for those first walks or bus rides to and from school.

OS (Operating System)

The operating system is the software that manages and controls the basic functions of a mobile device. Parents should stay informed about their child’s device operating system (e.g., iOS, Android, Windows Phone), as it affects app compatibility, security updates, and overall device functionality. Regularly look for new updates manually to keep it updated.

App (Application)

An app is a software programme designed to perform specific tasks or provide services on a mobile device. Parents should guide their child in selecting appropriate and reputable apps, by managing their child’s app usage by age range and time spent.

Web App (PWA – Progressive Web App)

A web app, also known as a Progressive Web App or PWA, is an application that combines the capabilities of a website and a mobile app. PWAs are built using web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and are designed to provide an app-like experience directly through a web browser.

Unlike traditional apps, PWAs don’t require installation from an app store. Users can access them by simply visiting a website through a browser. However, PWAs can be saved to the home screen of a device.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage allows users to store and access their data, such as photos, documents, and videos, remotely over the internet, rather than the phone’s storage.


Bluetooth is a wireless technology that allows devices to communicate and exchange data over short distances. It is commonly used for connecting devices such as headphones, speakers, and keyboards to a mobile device.

Biometric Authentication

Biometric authentication refers to using unique physical or behavioural characteristics, such as fingerprints or facial recognition, to verify a user’s identity and provide secure access to a mobile device or specific applications.

Push Notifications

Push notifications are alerts or messages that are sent from mobile applications to a user’s device. They provide realtime updates, reminders, or notifications about new content, messages, or events from the apps.

Location Services

Location services are features that use GPS, Wi-Fi, or cellular network data to determine the device’s current location. They enable various applications to provide location-based services, such as maps, directions, or location-based recommendations. Tracking applications, such as the free ‘Find My Device’ application included with all modern Smartphones, need location services enabled and allowed to work over mobile data. ParentShield allows parents to locate a child’s phone, even if the data has run out!

Mobile Data

Mobile data refers to the internet connectivity provided by a mobile network. It allows users to access the internet, use applications, and send/receive data on their mobile devices outside of Wi-Fi networks. Mobile data usage is typically limited by the user’s mobile plan.

Airplane Mode

Airplane mode is a setting on mobile devices that disables all wireless connections, such as cellular network, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. It is commonly used during flights or in areas with specific restrictions, but little fingers can find settings like this and cause parents confusion when the phone suddenly drops off the network and stops working.

Battery Life

Battery life refers to the duration a mobile device can operate on a single battery charge. It is important to monitor and manage battery usage to ensure the device remains functional throughout the day.

In-App Purchases

In-app purchases are transactions made within a mobile application for additional content, features, or virtual goods. It allows users to enhance their app experience or access premium content by making a purchase directly from the app. Be sure to manage this with phone parental controls.

Screen Time

Screen time refers to the amount of time a user spends interacting with their mobile device’s screen. Monitoring and managing screen time is essential to maintain a healthy balance between device usage and other activities.


Firmware is the software embedded in a mobile device’s hardware. It provides the necessary instructions for the device’s operation and can be updated by the device manufacturer to add new features, improve performance, or address security issues.

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