First of all, remind your kids not to walk and talk or text, especially when they are crossing the street. That said, what else should parents know about cell phones and kids? Here are some recent statistics about how many kids have cell phones:
Beyond the everyday squabbles about using the cell phone, your biggest nightmare might be cyber stalking. Every time thereâs a scary report about kids being stalked because of their cell phone photos or text messages, parents become anxious. While you want to be able to contact each other to say things like, âIâll be 5 minutes lateâ or âIâm at Billieâs house,â what you donât want is for every Tom, Dick, or Harry to know where your son or daughter is.
Creating a Safety Zone
Basically, if you are using a cell phone to know the whereabouts of your kids, you are using a GPS (Global Positioning System). TV has shown us police finding both lost people and perpetrators by using the GPS in cell phones. If your kid is lost, the fact that they have a cell phone would be a comfort. But what about inadvertently sending out the location of your child to any cyber hack? Thatâs a big worry.
While you can setup your familyâs phones yourself, you might want to take the guess work out of it and use an app that is specially designed to enhance the safety of your child’s phone based on the way they use it. Here are two popular apps:
This free app is designed for both the iPhone and Android cell phones. Install the app on both your phone and your kidâs phone.
My Mobile Watchdog
This robust app cost $5/month and has years of endorsements from national news organizations, the FBI, and local law enforcers. It does far more than controlling the GPS on your phones.
In addition to useful tools, you can get some practical advice at the Parents Corner blog. One blog in particular gives tips about how to start conversations with children around technology and using the internet.
Once you feel safe about protecting the physical being of your kid, you might want to set limits for how they use their cell phone.
- Setting access times
- Limiting incoming and outgoing content
- Monitoring texts and photo messages
Most cell phone providers have systems for parents to monitor and control their kidâs cell phones. Below are the major providers. Just click the names to go to the designated website.
ATTÂ has Smart Limits at $5/ month. You can set time limits for calls and data usage, restrict or allow certain phone numbers, and determine how many minutes can be used each month.
Verizon has FamilyBase at $5/month where you can know how much time your child uses the cell phone for texts and calls. You can also lock their phone a certain times and monitor apps and connected friends.
SprintÂ provides Sprint Mobile Controls at 5$/month to let you monitor your kidâs phone, text, and data usage, set time limits, and observe what apps are on their phone.
TmobileÂ offers FamilyWhere for $9.99/month with free controls for blocking calls and messages, both incoming and outgoing.
Itâs Your Responsibility
A final word: Itâs up to you to set limits and boundaries! Parent up and explain the reasons why certain restrictions and boundaries exist. Make agreements that make you feel comfortable and work with your child to trust that they are implemented.