Did you know that June is celebrated as month of Internet security world wide and cell phones are nothing but an extension of the internet? Most of 12-17 years old have cell phones in their hands. As adults it is our responsibility to teach etiquettes to our kids. The following write up is to help parents understand some issue regarding the wireless cell phone usage by kids.
Are you one of the parents whose kids are begging you to get them a cell phone as all their friends already have one? If you are…. then you are one among thousands of parents facing the same issue. Cell phones might be convenient and might make you feel secure since you can be in touch with your child almost anywhere. Even your child can get in touch with you: if lunch money runs out or homework is left on the table at home or if they have to stay back for a tutorial or a game practice. May be you are working and your kids are walking home then you can be at peace as they can call you when they reach home or talk to u on their way home. These are good enough justification to get them a phone. But have you ever thought that cell phone is simply an extension of the internet. Children can send and receive images, e-mails, texts, and instant messages from their phones, which many parents and guardians do not monitor. Hence, you should consider cell phones an extension of the Internet and employ the same safeguards.
Discuss with your child how cell phones should never be used to text or send inappropriate messages, texts or emails. You can set rules as to never text with someone outside your family, friends and relatives. They should not respond to unknown numbers or late night calls or texts. They should never pass on their number or password to a stranger. Remind your child that texting is viral—anything sent in a text can be easily forwarded and shared. Talk to your child about the possible consequences of sending explicit or provocative images or text messages. If your child is suddenly showing change in behavior and not sharing things about school or friends as usual then talk to them as to what is bothering them.
As a parent you should review cell phone records for any unknown numbers and late night phone calls and texts. When shopping for a cell phone for your child, research the security settings that are available. You can enable texting or calling only for the numbers you approve. Join local parent forums, PTA, talk to school counselors even take few classes about internet safety. There are often such classes sponsored by public libraries regarding any issues or problems about safe usage of wireless cell phones and technology. However, I feel that discussing and talking to kids should be the main way of making your kids aware of the dangers and advantages of cell phones.
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