Can You Hear Me Now?

Cell phone safety tips for kids.

According to research, 22 percent of children ages 6-9, 60 percent of tweens ages 10-14 and 84 percent of teens own a cell phone. Parents generally provide children with cell phones for safety reasons and accessibility. Of course, owning a cell phone also comes with possible threats. Here are ten tips to help keep your kids safe while using a mobile phone.

  1. Inform kids about possible dangers. Talk to your children about negative consequences associated with inappropriate cell phone use, such as sexting or texting while driving. It’s also a good idea to ask your kids to save any abusive or problematic messages so they can show an adult.
  2. Select age-appropriate phone features. If your children are under age 10, they probably don’t need a phone with unlimited social networking or e-mail capabilities. Likewise, the actual phone itself doesn’t need built-in features, such as a Web browser or video messaging. For young children, look for basic phones and review all pre-programmed applications before purchasing.
  3. Take advantage of parental controls. If your child’s cell phone has access to the Internet, find out if your service provider offers a parental control feature to which you can subscribe.
  4. Limit the amount of use. Don’t let constant calls interrupt family time. Designate time slots for talking, like after homework or before dinner.
  5. Consider monitoring services. Perhaps your children are older, but you’re still not comfortable with them texting and e-mailing. Certain companies, including SafetyWeb, provide parents with comprehensive alerts and reports on children’s cell phone calls and text messages. This allows you to keep track of when kids are using the phone, such as during school hours or late at night, and who they are communicating with.
  6. Screen calls and texts. Instruct children not to answer calls or text messages from unfamiliar numbers. If it is important, the caller will most likely leave a message. Also explain to kids how to block unwanted calls.
  7. Program phone numbers. Confirm children’s cell phones have important phone numbers programmed, in case they need to call a parent or doctor in an emergency situation. Another great option is setting up the speed dial feature.
  8. Stay organized. Keep your child’s cell phone charger in the same place at all times. It’s best to find a central location, like the kitchen counter. This ensures the phone has a full battery and the charger doesn’t get lost. Additionally, mark the end of the monthly billing cycle on a calendar to remind kids how long their minutes need to last.
  9. Practice privacy. Tell your kids to use caution when giving out their phone number. They should also refrain from publicizing their number on the Internet.
  10. Avoid download overload. Fun ring tones, games and wallpapers are certainly entertaining. However, these features often come with potential bugs or hidden fees.