Have you ever been fascinated at the way a child’s thumbs fly over the phone’s little keyboard, and wondered how she does it so deftly and quickly?
Children love to text. It makes them feel connected with their friends wherever they are, whatever they’re doing.
Texts are great to keep friends close and help parents communicate with their children instantly and are a great way to share experiences. But like any powerful tool,
Texting also has its disadvantages.
It can be used to bully and humiliate people. Just one embarrassing image uploaded to a video sharing site can go viral. And children must be made aware that abusing the privilege of texting has negative consequences.
Parents are now starting to hand their children cell phones at a very young age. Sometimes the child is not old enough to understand the responsibilities of having a phone. It is quite common for young, elementary school children to receive a smartphone. In fact, children who don’t have one by the time they enter junior high, often feel left-out and unpopular. Feeling accepted and included is very important to adolescents and not having a phone can affect a child emotionally.
For instance, my niece who is ten years old has been asking her mom for an iPhone for the past year, simply because all of her friends have an iPhone, and so, she wants one. Her mom (my cousin) is actually considering it, because she doesn’t want her daughter to be teased or feel left out even though she knows quite well that her daughter is ready for an iPhone yet.
With present day technology, there are advantages to having your child own a cell phone. For instance, you can track them when they say they are going over to a friend’s house and you can rest easy in the knowledge that your child is safe and being honest – all in a matter of minutes. You can instantly find out where she is, what she is doing, and when she will be home. If you need to contact her in an emergency, you can do so. With a hundred things going on in your own life, the convenience of being able to contact your child instantly is indeed a luxury.
But then, there are also many disadvantages in allowing your child her own a cell phone. What if, when she gets older, she gets into the habit of texting and driving? Then there is the danger of losing the phone or cracking that screen.
As parents, the main concern, however, is tracking your child’s phone so that you know whom she’s talking to and whether she’s safe. Is it someone you know and approve of? If you are not sure about a phone number or if you think the person she’s texting is not a friend, you might need to use a reverse cell phone lookup site like National Cellular Directory to find out more information about the number such name, address, city, state, and so on. This information will help you find out who is at the other end of the line with your child and help you sleep easy at night.
Here are some guidelines parents can consider:
- Think about whether your child really needs texting on her cell phone. Just because her peers have it doesn’t make it mandatory that she should, too.
- If you decide to allow your child to text, look for a plan that offers unlimited texting, or the costs will mount up rapidly and shock you.
- Create rules and be strict about sticking to them. Make it clear where and when they can text. Ban texting during meals, during class at school, and during family outings. Insist that the phone be turned off at night.
- Be firm about not texting when they have to focus on something, for example, driving. Teens especially tend to text while driving, walking, or talking to someone. This will keep them safe and prevent them from being socially awkward.
- Be careful with confidential information. Children tend to share when they are on vacation and probably put your home and valuables at risk, inviting thieves.
- Tell them the risk of misusing their phones. This includes cheating, inappropriate messages, and sexual communication. Make it clear these are not acceptable. Confiscate their phone to make your point.
- Remember you are a role model for your child, so watch yourself. Do not text your child when you know she’s in class, because you’ll be contradicting yourself.
- Worried that your child is not texting safely? Look at her messages. While it may look like bad manners, a parent’s first responsibility is to make sure her child uses technology safely, responsibly.
Monitoring a child’s cell phone activities, if she has to carry a phone, must be done constantly. Make sure you approve of every number and person she speaks to on their phone. Teach her why she has to be careful. Explain the dangers of talking to strangers and being wary of people they interact with, online. Safety always comes first. Know whom your child is connecting with via her cell phone discreetly with National Cellular Directory. In these times when cyberbullying and online crime is rife, you can never be too careful.