parenting

Are you monitoring your child’s text messages?

Are you monitoring your child’s text messages Vidya Sury

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.

You Might Also Like

10 Comments

  • Reply
    Kim Orr
    August 18, 2016 at 1:24 am

    Thank you Vidya for this important post. Another thing for parents to consider is the growing evidence that early exposure to devices is impairing children’s executive function — literally damaging the brain center responsible for executive function. EF is that part of our brain function which governs our ability to plan, organize, make decisions, memory, self monitoring. All of these skills are critical to later success in life. Anyone interested can google it and see some of the new evidence which has lead the American and Canadian societies for pediatrics to recommend banning devices or restricting their use for children under 12.

    I can’t put the url here, but if people would like to look at two articles, there is one from the Huffington Post called 10 reasons why handheld devices should be banned for children under 12 published on March 6, 2014. Or they can google “early device use impairs executive function,” and take it from there.

    Thanks again for bringing up this important subject.

  • Reply
    Nabanita Dhar
    August 18, 2016 at 11:32 am

    The world has become so scary. I’m so worried about so many things when it comes to M, about how do I protect her. This one also adds to the list. Sometimes I wonder if they’ll have the same carefree childhood as we did. But thanks for sharing about this, Vidya.
    Nabanita Dhar recently posted…#ViewFromMyWindow – Are You A Good Listener?My Profile

  • Reply
    Rachna
    August 18, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    You are absolutely right. My elder son has a cellphone and I do check his messages periodically. I also check his social media accounts. He does not have a plan on his phone so he can only use it at home. Besides, he is not allowed to carry his phone to school so it is mostly used on occasions where he needs to get in touch with us. The younger one is pestering us for one. I guess it is sensible to constantly monitor our children when it comes to their gadgets. There is too much at stake.
    Rachna recently posted…You, Me and SelfieMy Profile

  • Reply
    Rajlakshmi
    August 18, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    Parents who give their kids iPhones are putting great pressure on parents who don’t want to. I don’t see any advantage in giving any kid a phone… the things they need to learn can be taught without a phone… Great points on monitoring the kids phone. With so many child predators online, it is advisable parents know what their kids are up to.
    Rajlakshmi recently posted…3 Life Lessons from Taylor Swift – Kimye FeudMy Profile

  • Reply
    Mahevash
    August 18, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    “In these times when cyberbullying and online crime is rife, you can never be too careful.”
    Nailed it!
    Mahevash recently posted…Be YouMy Profile

  • Reply
    Mahevash
    August 18, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    Right you are! Kids—just like adults—are not always wise enough to make the right decisions. It’s a jungle out there – and they definitely need to be looked after.
    Mahevash recently posted…8 Delightful Reasons To Drink Coffee Every Single DayMy Profile

  • Reply
    Vishal Bheeroo
    August 18, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    That’s great inputs Vidya Sury. I also feel it’s important to track smses and know to whom they are speaking. I wouldn’t give my child a super expensive phone to start with and will inculcate them to do small jobs to earn it. Nowadays, parents are so busy and thinking that by giving expensive gadgets it replaces love. It’s so flawed!
    Vishal Bheeroo recently posted…Interview: Dr Nikita Lalwani concocts ‘2 Peg ke Baad’My Profile

  • Reply
    Birgit
    August 20, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    Your post is spot on and I wish more parents would read this. If I had a child, there is no way my child would have a cell phone when they are only 12. They could stomp their feet and argue. but I know I would be firm on this. Their minds are still so little and developing. Once they were 16 and driving I would get a phone but I would want to get a pay as you go and they would have to pay for it! I have so many parents in my office that pay between $250-$450each month because of cell phones! The kids are often over 20 and some are working but they let them use all the whatever and continue to pay. I just shake my head
    Birgit recently posted…Thursday Movie Picks-Heist films gone wrongMy Profile

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      August 20, 2016 at 11:02 pm

      I know, Birgit. These days the cellphone has become the babysitter in most families. I have my heart in my mouth when I see toddlers playing with expensive phones. Sigh. As useful as technology is, there is a time, place and age for everything. Sadly, many parents feel very proud of their child’s “abilities” in this matter. Hugs! Love it when you catch up!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…Are you monitoring your child’s text messages?My Profile

    Leave a Reply

    CommentLuv badge

    %d bloggers like this: