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Cell Phones and Your Children

Kids, Cell Phones and Rules
Before you purchase a phone and a plan, you should know what your child’s school rules are regarding cell phones. Many schools don’t allow cell phones on campus or mandate that cell phones be turned off during school hours. If your reason for getting your child a cell phone is to be in contact with them during the day, then the cell phone purchase may not be necessary.

Kids, Cell Phones and Etiquette
Kids must understand and practice good cell phone behavior. By using good cell phone etiquette, your kids can be spared from potentially embarrassing situations. Teach your child to use the vibration mode on their cell phone so it doesn’t disturb other. Teach them to excuse themselves so they can have a phone conversation, and to turn off their phone when in public.

Mobile Safety
Kids need to know who they are texting and talking with. They should not text or talk to strangers and certainly should never text or talk about sex with strangers.

Text Messaging Costs
Depending on what mobile service you use, one text message can cost 15 cents to send and a couple of cents to receive. Check with your carrier to see if they have flat-rate texting that can be included in your child’s or family’s service plan.

Social Networking By Cell
Many social sites have a feature that allows users to check their profiles and post comments from their cell phones. This allows teens to network socially from anywhere. Don’t be mistaken by thinking that any filtering controls on your home computer will do the same for your kid’s cell phone. It doesn’t. Have a conversation with your kids about using common sense and responsibility when they use social networking on their phones.

Phone Bullying
Kids need to know that Instant Messaging/Text Messaging Harassment is wrong, harmful and at times illegal.
Kids should never:

  • Sending hateful or threatening messages to other kids
  • Kids send death threats using IM, text-messaging, photos and videos
  • Kids gang up on their victim in text wars or text attacks. They send hundreds or thousands of text-messages to the victim's cell  phone or other mobile device, resulting in a large cell phone bill and angry parents.
  • Texting or Warning Wars kicks someone else offline for an extended period because ISP's offer a way of "telling on" a user who   uses the Internet for inappropriate behavior, remarks and language.
  • A kid may create a screen name that is very similar to another kid's name but add or remove an extra vowel. Then they use this  name to say disparaging things to other users while posing as the other person.

Social Mapping
Many cell phones have GPS technology installed. This allows your kids to pinpoint their friends’ exact physical location and allows their friends to pinpoint them. Explain this technology to your kids and let them know that this can only be used with their friends that they know – not anyone they may meet online or through texting.

Media Sharing By Phone
Cell phones for the most part come equipped with cameras and videocams. Kids are drawn to these devices because they can share media with friends. Talk with your kids about never letting other people photograph or film them in embarrassing or inappropriate situations (and vice versa). They need to understand their own and others’ privacy rights which can become a personal reputation and safety issue. Your child understand that it's rude to take embarrassing pictures of their friends with a phone, or to use the phone to gossip about others.

Smart Phones
3G-phones usually include the Web. This device gives your kids access to everything on the Web as if they were on their computer. Some Mobile phone companies offer filters but have no control over the content your child accesses. Parents should have a discussion with their kids, just as you do about accessing the Internet on their computer. If you have concerns about your kids accessing adult sites, you can turn on the filtering.