Dumb Things Kids Do with Smart Phones by G.G. Mathis

The term smart phone refers to the gadget—not necessarily the user! We interviewed Detective Rich Wistocki, a veteran police investigator and parent educator, about problematic preteen phone habits.

Alachia Does Droid 2
source: alachia

PL: What should parents do before they give their preteens a smart phone?

Wistocki: Understand one thing: Apple handheld devices cannot be monitored. Only Android phones can be monitored. I would start off by not getting my [child] an iPhone, first and foremost.

Parents must speak often and honestly to their children about the usage expectations. Don’t forget, you are the parent! You own this phone. You have the right to monitor activity on it [and] ensure everyone is behaving as agreed to.

PL: What are some dumb mistakes make using their smart phones?

Wistocki: Sending photos and uploading them to Facebook and other sites. Cameras are so easy to use … there is no time to double-think the decision [to post]. Geotagging—a picture can contain an exact location, so when it is sent or posted online, kids are (sometimes unknowingly) posting exactly where they are through the geotags. [Parents should] turn geotags off in the phone’s settings.

PL: Free phone apps are tempting to download. Which ones are unwise for preteens to use?

Wistocki: Apps where kids connect freely with strangers are the most dangerous—apps like Taproom and Words With Friends. These are fantastic vehicles for predators to find, groom, and then prey upon unsuspecting victims. Kids know all about “not friending people you don’t know online,” but I am not sure this mindset has expanded to apps.

PL: How can parents monitor phone use?

Wistocki: Talk about it with the cell phone providers when [the phones are purchased] . They can illustrate safe settings and options. Check out outside monitoring companies like TrueCare. Kids are more tech savvy than their parents around all these new technologies. Parents need to rely on monitoring services, software, and controls to ensure everything is okay online.

 

ggmathis  G.G. Mathis is a mom, preteen Bible study teacher, and writer from Duenweg, Missouri. She still needs help setting the ringtone on her phone.

 

Preteens & Cell Phone Safety

 

images-3.jpegAfter much soul searching, we bought our preteen son a cell phone for Christmas. We have put all kinds of limits on its use. He has never taken it to school or to church. In fact, we bought it primarily for him to take with him for any overnight trips when he is away from us. Additionally, we blocked use of the Internet and texting on his phone.

Many parents are worried about cell phone use. Stories abound of teens who have gotten in trouble for sexting, sending sexual messages or photos via cell phone. Recently we received these tips for parents who are worried about cell phone issues such as sexting, bullying, and sexual predators.

images.jpeg

  1. Learn the lingo. Learn the pre-established acronyms like LOL, TTYL, and BRB.
  2. Invade their text space. Text your kids constantly so they consider their phone a space where you are present and watching.
  3. Set “no-text” times and other boundaries. Don’t allow kids to text constantly; they shouldn’t text at the dinner table and a curfew should be set. Clearly set boundaries of what is inappropriate.
  4. Limit use. Choose a plan that keeps track of how many texts can be sent and received.
  5. Read text faces. Just like verbal communication, nonverbal cues are important. Text faces help you tell if someone is disturbed or joking.
  6. Monitor other messaging forums.  Sexting doesn’t start and end with texting. Monitor IMs, e-mails, photos, and other digital forums.

For more about preteens and cell phones, read the 9 to 12 Years Growth Spurt "Can I Have a Cell Phone?" in the January 2010 issue of ParentLife.

 At what age will you buy your preteen or teen a phone?

*Information provided by Predicto Mobile.