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.

 

Fun Apps & Websites for Kids

Preschool

Wacky Safari — Let’s go on a safari! This app has animal sounds, fun facts, jokes, and pictures. Cost: free. Available for Apple devices at iTunes.

Word World by PBS Kids helps your child become ready to read and then become an independent reader.

School Age

Pianist — Learn to play the piano on this full 88-key piano keyboard. Cost: $3.99. Available for Apple devices at iTunes.

Club Penguin introduces virtual worlds, avatars, and online gaming.

Preteen

Wreck This App — Based on the popular Wreck This Journal by author/illustrator Keri Smith, you can tap into your creativity with prompts and a variety of drawing tools. Cost: $4.99. Available for Android and Apple devices.

Bunki Munki is a safe social Website just for preteens that promotes positive thinking, self-esteem, and confidence. Parents must register their children on the site.

Cool Technology … for Parents by Christi McGuire

If you read “Cool Technology” in this month’s ParentLife, you discovered lots of apps and websites for your preschooler, school-age child, and preteen. But there’s a lot more for your family—and for parents, too! Check out these products, apps, and websites.

 

Products

Leapster Explorer® by Leap Frog® (www.leapfrog.com) allows your preschooler to engage in games and activities that help them build school skills, such as letter recognition, writing, reading, math, and more.

Motorola Digital Video Baby Monitor: Sleep better knowing your little one is fast asleep, too. This monitor delivers one of the best visual images available. The camera allows you to zoom as well as pan vertically and horizontally almost 360 degrees. Available at Amazon.com.

Kidz Gear ™ offers products and accessories that are child-sized but with high-quality performance. The award-winning line of Wired Headphones for Kids has “volume limiting technology” that brings a safe experience for children that limits maximum volume levels. Headphones are ergonomically designed with soft padded ear-cups. Priced economically for happier (and quieter) car trips! Available at www.gearforkidz.com.

Websites

Wipolo: Explore the world with your friends! You can organize all your trip details in one spot—create itineraries, keep reservations, locate destinations, learn destination facts, write a travel journal, keep track of past trips, store pictures, and share it all with others.

Healthy Children: A comprehensive website powered by the American Academy of Pediatrics to support and educate parents about the physical, mental, and social health and well-being for all infants, children, and teens.

Apps

SOS Rescue Me: Your child can feel safe anywhere when they are on their own. Download this app to your child’s phone, and if she feels threatened, she clicks the button. A preselected set of contacts will receive a text with your child’s current location. Cost: $.99. Available at iTunes.

Sit or Squat: It never fails–your little one has to potty when you’re out and about. This app helps you find the nearest public restroom. Cost: free. Available at www.sitorsquat.com.

 S.O.S.: An app by the American Red Cross helps you know how to handle emergency situations, like CPR, before first responders arrive. Cost: free. Available at https://market.android.com.

Instant Playdates: Plan playdates to your Facebook friends. Cost: free. Available for Android and iPhone. Available at http://instantplaydates.com.

Mom Maps: Find family fun places and kid-friendly locations, such as parks, playgrounds, restaurants, museums, and indoor play spaces in your area—including a map to get there. Cost: free. Available at http://kidsplayguide.com.

Holiday Gift List:  Manage everyone’s Christmas or birthday wishes and tally your spending. Cost: $1.99. Available at iTunes.