to research, 22 percent of young children own a cell phone (ages 6-9), 60
percent of tweens (ages 10-14), and 84 percent of teens.
Now that it's back-to-school
time, many parents make the decision to arm their kids with cell phones.
Parents generally say they do so for safety reasons; they want to be able to
reach the child anytime. Cost is also a factor. Cell phone industry experts say
phones and family plans are both becoming more affordable. Also, as adults swap
out their old devices for newer smart phones, it is easier to pass down a used
But for children, it is all
about social life. A Pew study found that half of 12- to 17-year-olds sent at
least 50 text messages a day and texted their friends more than they talked to
them on the phone or even face to face.
Of course, owning a cell phone
comes with possible outside threats. Here are 10 tips from SafetyWeb ( www.safetyweb.com ) to help keep your kid
safe while using a cell phone:
1. Get Educated and
Prepared. Talk to
your kids about the dangers and consequences associated with inappropriate cell
phone use. Discuss topics including sexting and texting while driving. Make sure you
get caught up on the lingo of popular acronyms and initialisms. Ask your kids
to save any abusive or problem messages to show an adult.
2. Select Appropriate
Phone Features. If
your child is under 10, they probably don't need a phone with unlimited social
networking or email capabilities. Likewise, the actual phone itself
doesn’t need built-in features like a web browser or video messaging. For
a young child, look for basic phones. Review all pre-programmed apps and phone
3. Use Parental
Controls. If your
child’s cell phone has access to the internet, find out if your service
provider offers some sort of parental control feature to which you can
4. Limit Usage. Designate time slots for talking —
perhaps after homework and chores are completed, or before dinner. Don't let
constant calls interrupt family time. It's easy for a chatty teen to cuddle up
to a phone at bedtime, so check periodically.
5. Consider Monitoring
your child is older, but you’re still not comfortable with him or her
texting and emailing unmonitored. SafetyWeb provides parents with comprehensive
alerts and reports on their child's cell phone calls and text message activity.
This allows you to keep track of when they are using the phone (during school
hours or late at night), and who they are communicating with most frequently.
6. Wait - Before
your child not to answer calls or text messages from numbers they don't recognize.
If it is important, the caller will leave a message and then he can decide how
to respond. Explain how to block calls from unwanted numbers.
7. Pre-program numbers. To help keep your kids safe, make sure
their cell phones have all important phone numbers preprogrammed into it so
they can always get a hold of someone if they’re in trouble.
8. Stay Organized. Always keep your child's cell phone
charger in the same place. It's best to find a central location — like
maybe the kitchen counter, or a table by the door. Mark the end of the monthly
billing cycle on a calendar to remind her how long those dwindling minutes have
9. Practice Privacy. Tell your teen to use caution when giving
out a phone number. Make sure they don't publicize their number on the Internet
or social sites like Facebook.
10. Be Careful of
Fun ringtones, games, and backgrounds - oh my! But, be careful. These such
features can come with potential bugs or hidden fees.