In light of the recent Kanye, Kim, and Taylor Swift taping escapades, this is a good time to discuss cell phone safety with your teen. Cell phones have the ability to do just about anything, so it’s important to set ground rules for phone usage. According to Uknowkids.com, 60 percent of kids aged 10 to 12 and 80 percent of teens ages 13 to 17 have cell phones. First, you should determine whether or not your child is mature enough for a cell phone. Whether all of your teen’s friends have phones is not a valid indicator that your teen should also own a phone. Use good judgment to decide whether or not your child is ready for that responsibility. These six tips will help to keep your teens safe and provide some helpful information for future use.

    • Chat rooms and other social media sites are forums that predators use to target and communicate with their potential victims. Explain to your teen that they should never converse with people that they don’t know. And tell your teen to alert you immediately if anyone tries to engage in sexual discussions. Encourage your teen to be social outside of talking and texting on their phone.

 

    • Since technology is so prevalent in today’s society, bullying and harassment now have cyber capabilities. Talk with your kids about how to use the same manners and ethics online that they use when dealing with people in person. It’s imperative that children know how to conduct themselves on screen. Reiterate that bullying is bullying no matter if it takes place face-to-face or digitally.

 

    • GPS technology goes hand-in-hand with cellular devices. Physical locations can be pin-pointed with ease. Talk to your teens about the evolving technology and advise them to never share this information with strangers.

 

    • Media sharing is one of the most important items to discuss in-depth with your children. Remember that most mobile devices have cameras. We live in a society that encourages over-sharing and, because of this, we must constantly reiterate the importance of privacy. Talk with your teen about never allowing others to take photos or film them in inappropriate situations. Teens need to understand the privacy rights of sharing photos and videos from their cell phones.

 

    • Explain to your teen that their cell phone is their property and is not something that should ever be loaned to others. It doesn’t matter if it’s their best friend, phones should never be used by their friends or other third parties. Using a cell phone is no longer just a quick phone call, it’s to check e-mail or search something on Google. While most actions may be harmless, it’s important to be safe rather than sorry.

 

    • One of the benefits of having a smartphone is the ability to have a number of apps at your fingertips. Apps are a blessing and a curse. If you lose your device, all of your valuable information is lost and/or compromised. Through apps, most phones store anything from bank information to social media accounts. Phones also store private phone numbers and other contacts. It’s important to emphasize to your teen the immense responsibility of having a cell phone.

 

As parents, it’s our responsibility to educate our teens with cell phone knowledge. Nothing should ever be categorized as common sense, especially in the day and age where technology is constantly evolving. Be a proactive parent and add cell phone education to your “must-have” talks.

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