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How to Keep your Teens Technology Safe? Part 1 Dangers of Cell Phones
I don't think it is possible to totally keep up with our teens when it comes to technology unless we don't allow them to use any - which is crazy. That doesn't mean we bury our heads in the sand and let our teens just do whatever they want. Good kids can make bad decisions especially when it comes to the misuse of technology. I believe our jobs as parents is to teach our kids how to properly use technology. How do we set limits on things we don't know or understand? Surely you can see where I'm headed as parents we must start using, understanding, and learning all this social networking thing -a-ma-bob.
We need to use some common sense - why do children (it isn't just teens) have better, more sophisticated phones than parents? Because it was free or inexpensive? Because they saved up the money to buy it? I believe this is the biggest mistake most parents make - cell phones. These little devices have become so powerful and for most kids it is in their possession 24/7.
1. There should be limits on cell phone use. Are you the type of parent that sets limits on video games, TV, curfews? Then you need to set limits on cell phone use. Most phone companies have parent limits that you can set - but they aren't really that great. What if your child is out past the time you've set on the phone - then you can't call them and they can't call you. Now you can use the GPS function and find out where they are. Of course this all comes at a price.
2. Learn how to use their phone. If your child has a smarter more advanced phone than your own you need to learn how to use theirs and find out how they are using it. Ask your child - hey I'm thinking about getting a better phone (which you need to do if you are going to allow them to have one) can you show me how to use your phone ? Have them show you every inch of it.
3. Perform spot checks on your kids phones. Periodically at different times just ask your teen to see their phone - read text messages, if they can get on the internet see where they have been - check the history. Look at their pictures stored on the phone. Play a game on their phone.
4. Check phone and text logs. These are kept by the phone company and you can review these real time with an online account. This is an easy way to see if they are staying within the limits you've set at least time wise.
5. Join in - that's right if you don't text start texting. If they can get on the internet you need to do the same. If they are facebook, myspace, twitter, etc. phone posters than you need to do this too. We can't possible understand the allure and danger from these social networks if we don't use them.
6. Educate them on the laws around cell phone use. Driving and using the cell phone - if you don't want them to do it you better not do it. Do you know the laws around sexting? Better find out-more teens are doing this than you think. It is more than pictures it can be words too. This is a real problem don't say oh my kid doesn't do that check and make sure. "Google it " you'll be surprised to find out kids have been charged with sexting and are now registered sex offenders. Talk to your kids about the this do not assume yours are immune. Just because the phone can take pictures doesn't mean you have to allow your teen to send and receive pictures on their phone. You can call the phone company and block just about anything - phone numbers, data transmission, pictures, SMS texting, etc.
Bottom line - this is work for the parent - yes work. Set-up a common place for cell phones & iPods to be charged at night - yours too - keeps them from taking it to bed. Once you set a limit you have to enforce it - which will make you ever so unpopular. Remember, we are their parents not their friends.