I got my first cell phone as a Christmas present in December 2000. At the time, I thought it was an extreme extravagance. I wondered why I would ever truly need one.
The evolution of cell phone use
Flash forward 11+ years. We have four cell phone lines in our home and no longer have a landline phone. A few years ago, as I became more entrenched in the social media world, I finally broke down and got my first smart phone (which, incidentally, I only used with wifi for a while before getting a basic email plan, followed by a data plan). I am now a 4G super-fast internet-enhanced cell phone user.
No longer are cell phones just about making phone calls, though that is certainly an important aspect. My phone is now my on-the-go, always-with-me camera, my connection to email, twitter, Facebook, and games. It is not too far fetched to say that I would be lost without it. And my kids? It drives me crazy when they can’t call home to check in or I can’t get ahold of them. Although my kids don’t all have their own cell phones, we rely on them just the same (note: I have an extra cell phone that is the traveling phone, given to whichever child is going to need it that day).
As my kids have gotten older, I’ve noticed something else: smartphones have become so prevalent in the everyday life of teens and tweens that communicating via text and email and Facebook is the norm. Even I text my oldest daughter when we are both at home. And because this is the new normal, parents need to learn how to educate and monitor what is going on with their teens.
Five Easy Tips for Parents to Promote Safe Teen Smartphone Use
• Start a dialogue with your teen/tween. Before you ever give your child a phone, sit down and talk with them about sexting, cyberbullying, hazing and other threatening acts that can be sent to the smart phone. Open communication is a must from the start.
• Remember that you own the phone. Unless your child is older and has a job, you – the parent – most likely bough the phone and pay for the monthly service fees. Be clear from the very beginning that you, as the parent and as the owner of the phone, have every right to monitor usage and content…or take the phone away if necessary.
• Set parental controls. Most phone plans have parental controls available. Use them. If that’s not enough, then there is software available to monitor mobile usage.
• Know that it’s more than a phone; it’s a mini computer. Today’s cell phone is nothing like my first cell phone, circa 2000. What we hold in our hands today is really a mini computer. It’s important to discuss what content your teens can download, what services they can use, and with whom they are allowed to communicate.
• Personal information should stay private. This is a basic rule I teach all of my children about online safety: Before handing over a smartphone make sure that they understand that they are never to give out personal information online.
• Post the “rules of engagement” in a public area. Set clear expectations from the beginning about when and where they are allowed to use the phone. Teens often don’t think about the repercussions of their actions…including what will happen AFTER they post a picture online or what will happen if they are texting in class (especially during a test).
Would you feel more comfortable with additional mobile monitoring?
Introducing eBLASTER Mobile – software that gives parents access to their child’s smart phone activity, including texting, phone calls, pictures and web history, and alerts them when a potential threat arises. In addition, eBLASTER Mobile’s Geofencing technology allows parents to create multiple electronic location boundaries – or fences – that trigger an alert when their child enters or leaves a pre-defined location with their smart phone, reassuring parents their child is where they are supposed to be.
Key eBLASTER Benefits:
• Gives parents a way to reduce their worrying by setting views and parameters on the smart phone to help keep their child safe
• Alerts parents to potential threats
• Provides a data trail should an issue occur
Key eBLASTER Features:
• Smart phone activity reports via email
• Instant alerts via email
• Geofencing technology to trigger when a child enters or leaves a specified location
• Ability to manage settings remotely
Enter to Win eBLASTER Mobile
To enter to win eBLASTER Mobile software for your teen/tween’s smart phone (Retail Value: $69) leave a comment on this post and enter the Rafflecopter form below (sometimes it takes a minute for the widget to load).
This giveaway will end on 3/20 and a winner will be chosen at random and notified via email. Note: eBLASTER Mobile is currently available for Android based phones as well as Blackberry.
Note: This post (including the mobile safety tips) and giveaway was sponsored by eBLASTER Mobile. As always, thoughts and opinions are my own, as is the commentary about each of the mobile safety tips mentioned.
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