I love to text. I did not get my first cell phone until I was sixteen and able to pay the monthly bill. Kids are now receiving cell phones at the age of twelve, or even younger. Texting is the new trend, it is easier than talking and you can say what you want fast and short. But, texting has became more than just communication, teenagers are now “sexting.” Sexting is where teenagers are starting to send explicit photos of themselves to their boyfriends, girlfriends, or others. Not only are kids sexting, but teenagers are putting themselves and others at risk of texting while they are driving. I have to admit, I have done this before myself. I have found that it is much easier to wait and call someone, rather than texting them while I am trying to focus on driving. With this in mind Shane Neman, CEO of EZ Texting has came up with five tips on the dangers of text messaging that I would love to share with you.
A Parent’s Guide to Kids & Safe Texting
1) Never Text & Drive. While this may seem obvious, many people ignore their common sense and do it anyway, especially teenagers. Many states have banned talking on mobile phones without a hands free device while driving. They have the right idea, never text and drive. Don’t let the cost of a few headsets stand in the way of your child’s safety. If you have to, suspend driving privileges.
2) Sexting. Another ’seemingly obvious’ rule. Talk to your kids about the practice, and about peer pressure. A survey by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that more than 50 percent of the girls who “sexted” did so under pressure from boyfriends. If either party involved is under 18, the pictures may be considered child pornography. Make it clear to your child that ’sexting’ is not a way of being intimate with another person, and that there are other, more private, more appropriate, alternatives.
3) Text and walk. This one’s for parents & kids: Always keep your eyes ahead of you, not on your phone. This is especially true when walking on a busy sidewalk or crossing an intersection. When using your cell phone, it’s very easy to get distracted and lose focus on what is taking place around you. A study by the University of Alabama found that children speaking on a cell were 43 percent more likely to be hit or to have a close call in simulated street crossings than kids who weren’t on the phone.
4) Think before you text. It only takes seconds of poor judgment for a private thought to hit the airwaves. Once you send a text message, even to a friend, you can’t take it back and you never know who might see it. Prevent embarrassing moments by thinking twice before you text - just as you would before you speak.
5) Avoid paying additional fees. Call your carrier to block third-party applications on your child’s handset. Think of it as a V-Chip for the phone. Explain to you children - ringtones, games, apps - they all cost money and can contain explicit content. As children are granted cell phone privileges at such young ages, not all have a true understanding of money and the value of a dollar. If an explanation doesn’t cut it, take control and limit the programs and features your child can and cannot access with their phone.
These tips are crucial and can prevent accidents from happening and could also prevent inappropriate behavior. I love the saying “think before you text.” I will keep this in mind myself when I am out driving, or in a private conversation with a friend. Protect your child!