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7 Cell Phone Safety Tips Your Kids Need to Know

It seems that everyone owns a cell phone today, and kids are far from an exception; the average age at which an adolescent receives their first cell phone is about 11 years. It can't be denied that there is value in kids' having cell phones; cell phones can be an effective means of keeping in touch with your kids and keeping them safe; can benefit older kids socially; and can be a good way to give your kids some responsibility and accountability. However, owning a cell phone carries a number of risks. For parents whose kids have cell phones or who are considering giving their child a phone, we have compiled a list of essential safety tips to help your child avoid these risks.

1. Don't talk to strangers.

It's old advice, but it's good advice; your child should only accept calls or respond to messages from people they know, and should also only call or message those they know in real life. While the threat of strangers is often exaggerated, it still exists, and children and young adolescents in particular should take steps to protect themselves by being cautious in whom they speak to using their phone

2. Know what cyberbullying looks like.

Unfortunately, cyberbullying remains a substantial problem. Your child should know what constitutes cyberbullying and what the consequences are, both for the perpetrator and the victim. Teach your child against engaging in bullying behavior on their phone, and make sure they know that they should come straight to you if they observe cyberbullying, whether they are the victim or someone else is.

3. Don't share private information.

It's amazing how easily content and information can be shared and spread using cell phones. To prevent your child from falling victim to this phenomenon, teach them not to send personal information using their phone or to use their device to post it on social media, if their phone is Internet-capable. Your child should also not give out their cell phone number to those they don't know well. Finally, your child should know not to say or share anything inappropriate using their phone, especially anything rude or sexual in nature.

4. Don't "check in."

Social networking sites such as Facebook offer geolocation, a service that allows users to "check in" to their current physical location and posts this information to their profile. Because publishing your whereabouts online makes you easier to find and follow, this feature comes with some risk, especially for younger users who may be more easily targeted. If your child has an Internet-capable phone, advise them against using geolocation.

5. Practice Internet safety.

Another issue to consider if your child has an Internet-capable phone is their level of access. While your child's being able to access the Internet on their phone can be useful and practical, it can also increase access to unsafe or inappropriate websites and content. Teach your child about what you consider acceptable use of the Internet, and instruct them on how to stay safe online. You may even want to consider placing a filter or limit on their online mobile activity.

6. Keep it safe.

Your child should know not only how to keep themself safe, but how to keep their phone safe. After all, their phones are useless to help them stay safe if they are broken or stolen. Give your child a protective case for their phone to prevent damage, and instruct them only to use their phone discreetly and only to have it out when they are using it so that it is less likely to be lost or stolen.

7. Follow the rules.

Be sure that your rules and expectations for cell phone use are clear to your child; this way, they will know exactly what they are supposed to do to stay safe, and can be held accountable if they fail to take those steps. Consider establishing punishments for failing to follow the rules, such as taking your child's phone for a few days.

These tips can go a long way to protect your child from the threats and problems that cell phone ownership may carry. However, to ensure their safety as fully as possible, be sure to teach your child how to stay out of dangerous situations and remain safe in all aspects of life. Additionally, remember that these tips merely concern safety; you should also consider educating your child about other aspects of owning and using a phone, such as etiquette, and even placing restrictions on your child's cell phone use because of these aspects, depending on the child's age and character. Together, these tactics are sure to equip your child to be a safe and smart cell phone user.

About the Author -
Sharon Housley is the VP of Marketing for NotePage, Inc. a software company for communication software solutions. http://www.notepage.net

 

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