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Parent's Cell Phone Survival Guide

Parent's Cell Phone Survival Guide

For tips on how to how to navigate the world of cell phones with your elementary, middle, or high school aged kids, watch this informative video.

Cell phones aren’t just for talking anymore

You rarely see young people these days without a cell phone in their hands. But they’re probably not talking on it. More likely, they’re texting, surfing the Web, updating their Facebook pages, playing games, downloading apps, playing with ring tones, taking pictures, recording video, and more.

When you hand your children cell phones, you’re giving them powerful communications and media production tools. They can create text, images, and videos that can be widely distributed and uploaded to Web sites instantly. If you think your kids’ technological savvy is greater than their ability to use it wisely, pay attention to the gap. We're still the parents. And it's our job to say, “No, not yet.”

Parents have to teach responsible cell phone use

Cell phones give kids access to a world that’s both portable and private. Unlike when they talk on the phone at home, with a cell phone you’re not there to monitor what they’re saying or sending, or whom they’re talking to.

Unfortunately, this access means that kids can use these powerful communication tools irresponsibly. They may text when they should be paying attention to what’s going on around them. They may engage in sexting, by sending or receiving inappropriate pictures or messages. Embarrassing texts, photos, and videos captured on phones can be sent instantly or uploaded easily to Web sites. This form of cyberbullying can happen swiftly and anonymously.

A few other things to be aware of: Texting has also led to cheating in class, as kids noiselessly text answers to one another. Your children may text late into the night because you won’t hear them. Cell phones can distract kids from what’s going on around them and can be expensive. Mobile phones, and the monthly plans that support texting and Web access, can cost a small fortune.

What’s the right age for your child to have a cell phone?

Cell phones have become a must-have for kids, and the ways kids use them are not always obvious to parents. If you answer “yes” to most of the following questions, it may be time to get a cell phone for your children.

  • Are your kids pretty independent?
  • Do your children need to be in touch for safety reasons?
  • Would having easy access to friends benefit them for social reasons?
  • Do you think they’ll use a cell phone responsibly – for example, not texting during class or disturbing others with their phone conversations?
  • Can they adhere to limits you set for minutes talked and apps downloaded?
  • Will they use the text, photo, and video functions responsibly and not to embarrass or harass others?

Parent tips for elementary school kids

  • Ask yourself: Do they really need a phone? If you decide that they do, ask yourself what kind of phone they need. For very young children, there are phones that you can program with just a few important phone numbers. For older elementary school kids, you might want to choose a phone that allows for calls but not texting or instant messaging (IM).
  • Make sure young kids understand the rules. If your kids have phones, make sure you have programmed everyone’s numbers into the phones so that the phones display the names of who is calling. Tell your kids not to answer calls from numbers they don’t know. Make rules for time spent talking, what phones are used for, and when the phones should be off. You may want to check the time of calls to make sure they are made within your established boundaries.

Keywords: Cell phones, cyberbullying, Digital Excellence, Parent's Cell Phone Survival Guide, Tech Savy Englewood

Posted in Common Sense Media

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