So, your child has a cell phone. You have complete control to reach him whenever you need to. He’s just glad he knows what’s going on this weekend. Everybody’s happy. Now what?
Cell phones are an integral part of kids’ lives. According to a study by C&R Research, 22 percent of young children own a cell phone (ages 6-9), 60 percent of tweens (ages 10-14), and 84 percent of teens (ages 15-18). And cell phone companies are now marketing to younger children with colorful kid-friendly phones and easy-to-use features. Market research from the Yankee Group shows 54 percent of 8- to 12-year-olds will have cell phones within the next three years.
Start by going to your wireless provider’s website. Create an account if you haven’t already. Through accounts such as those set up at Verizon Wireless, you can set up parental controls that limit number of texts, block specific phone numbers, institute time restrictions and block content downloads.
Sound complicated? It’s really not. Plus, they’ve thought of everything. If you’re worried about setting up an 11 p.m. stop on the weekends to your child’s cell phone usage – after all, he may miss you at his sleepover and want to come home (right!) – you can also specify allowable numbers that can contact your child outside of time restrictions.
The Center on Media and Child Health recently surveyed 195 youngsters and asked how much they used cell phones and about certain personality traits. Researchers found that people who are younger, more outgoing and have lower self-esteem are more likely to show addictive behaviors around their cell phone use. Younger people use cell phones more overall, use them more for social reasons, and are heavy users of text messaging.
Next, sign up for a service like SafetyWeb. This helpful parental control software site allows parents to set up controls and to monitor their child’s cell phone usage above and beyond what cell phone providers can. Simply type in your child’s cell phone number and your service provider, then start receiving alerts if your child goes outside of your specific parameters.
For example, set up keywords you want to monitor, or friends’ numbers to which you want to pay closer attention. SafetyWeb will send you digests of your child’s cell phone activity. You won’t be able to read each text message or listen to phone calls, but you will have greater insight into what your child is doing on his or her phone.
The Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 39 percent of cell users ages 18-29 say they are not always truthful about where they are when they are on the phone. Additionally, the Center on Media and Child Health found that some teen cell phone users are likely to be woken at night by incoming text messages or calls, and are therefore more likely to be tired and less able to focus throughout the day.
SafetyWeb’s helpful charts show time of usage, most used cell phone numbers and more. Parents get automatically alerted if a text or call is sent or received in the middle of the night or during restricted hours. It’s cell phone monitoring made easy. And that’s worth every penny.