Before You Hand Over a Smartphone to Your Teen…
The numbers keep growing. More and more teenagers are not just armed with a mobile phone, but a Smartphone. It’s estimated that close to a quarter of children between 14 and 17 years old already have one according to a recent report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. While Smartphones are amazing devices that provide access to the world through voice, text and the internet, there are dangers to safeguard your teen (and yourself) against before officially handing one over to them.
App website, Appolicious recently shared the following important tips that are worth sharing here with you:
Make It Clear That “Check-In” Services Are Limited to Only You and a Close Group of Friends:
Thanks to Facebook and Four Square, it’s possible for any of us to share where we are at any given time through these and other social media sites. On the surface, it may look like a fun way for your teen to let friends and family know what they’re up to but it also can open up the door to strangers having access to this information as well. Although there are ways to restrict who sees status and location updates, the foolproof way to avoid anyone being able to monitor your teen’s whereabouts is to insist that your child does not share their location outside of family and a few close friends.
Also, keep in mind for an extra $5 - $10 charge, all major cell phone carrier have services that can help you track your child’s whereabouts through his or her phone. Additionally there are several apps that provide this service, such as Glympse, that can be downloaded at no cost to most Smartphone devices.
Make Texting While Driving Not An Option:
Car crashes are already the number one cause of death among teens so adding texting into the mix is clearly not a good idea. Everyone knows it’s dangerous to text while driving but unfortunately the temptation can often outweigh that knowledge. Parents should know that like the check-in services previously mentioned, for a fee, most major cell phone carriers provide a service that can eliminate the ability to text while in motion at certain speeds thanks to GPS technology found within Smartphones. There is also an independent service called tXtBlocker that can prevent texting while in motion and the free service, “DriveSafe.ly” allows text messages to be read aloud as they are received to help drivers keep their eyes on the road.
Consider Getting A Second Line:
Purchasing a second line may seem like an unnecessary expense but including it on your child’s Smartphone could be the better way to go over the often preferred prepaid phone plan. A second line can set limits on how often the phone can be used for both making calls and texting (with the exception of 911 emergency calls and authorized numbers by plan’s owner) which can prevent you from receiving outrageous bills from your cell phone carrier. Plus, it also provides the location-tracking and text-curbing services as mentioned above.
Wi-Fi = Saving:
On the subject of reining in the cell phone bill, encourage your teen to use wireless internet whenever possible when it comes downloading apps, video clip or playing games with others online. At home that means making sure their settings on the Smartphone are connected to the home Wi-Fi network. When on the go, instruct them to seek out businesses and other locations such as the local library that have Wi-Fi networks. There are also apps available for both iPhones and Android phones that can help you find Wi-Fi networks in your community.
Providing a Smartphone to your teen might be scary and an added expense, but if used wisely, it can be an immensely helpful tool providing basic assistance like the ability to call for help if needed or get directions when lost, to offering around the clock access to websites and apps that can help with school projects and even remind them to follow through on household chores!
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