Cell Phone Safety for Kids
Mobile phones. Everyone has them. Especially our kids.
What used to be a luxury has become a necessity.
When I was a teen, a dime, and then later a quarter was all that I needed to carry in my pocket to make sure I could be in touch with my mom while away from home.
Today our teens rely on their cell phones to keep them in touch not only with their parents, but with their entire world.
As parents, it is our responsibility to teach our children to navigate the mobile world safely.
Last week I participated in a Mobile Safety School webinar co-hosted by AT&T and The Motherhood. It was a fast moving hour, but I had the great privilege of connecting with other bloggers (real moms like me!) to discuss the issue of mobile safety.
Here are some interesting (and sobering) statistics about kids and mobile safety:
- 53% of kids have been in a motor vehicle with someone who was texting and driving
- Over 1 in 5 have received a mean or bullying text message from another kid on their mobile phone
- Almost half (46%) have a friend who has received a message or picture that their parents would not have liked because it was too sexual
- 69% have answered a call from an unknown number
So, how do we handle our family’s increasing dependence on mobile phones? Some solutions that were discussed during the webinar were:
- Talk to your kids. Really share your concerns about mobile safety. Explain the specific dangers in age appropriate terms.
- Set firm ground rules. Many families have a no electronics at the dinner table rule, and it is also common to ask teens to “turn in” their phones at bedtime. Discuss with your children guidelines about who to text, what to text and who to phone and when.
- Follow up. If you tell your child that you are going to monitor his phone usage. . .monitor it! If you see inappropriate activity, make sure you point it out and have firm consequences in place. One blogger requires that her teen never delete texts. She checks the number on his phone to the number on the statement. If texts are deleted, she turns texting off on the phone for the rest of the month.
- Increase privileges as trust is earned. Just as you would not give a beginning driver a speedy red sports car, a young mobile phone user does not need a fancy smart phone. A simple phone and text model will do. An older, trustworthy teen can have a smartphone, but it is reasonable to require him to pay for part of it.
- Check in with your kids. It is fair to ask your kids who they are talking to or texting with. IT is also cmpletely acceptable to demand that they never ride with someone who is texting while driving, and to demand that they never text and drive. (Parents, please be a good no texting while driving example.)
Chime in! What ground rules do you set for mobile phone use in your family?