Nearly every teenager has a cell phone, as do most preteens and even younger children. Personal cell phones are great to have in an emergency, to talk to grandma and grandpa, or just to keep in touch with friends and family. However, cell phones are also a great way for predators to get access to children. That's why it's an extremely important part of digital parenting to have a firm handle on your child's cell phone use and the content they can access with their phone. Cell phone monitoring is a great service to invest in, but parents also have a responsibility to keep their children safe while using a cell phone as well.
It is important to know exactly who your child is talking to. Keep a close eye on your cell phone bill and question any numbers you don't recognize. You have a right and responsibility to know who is calling your child, and who your child is calling. You can speak to your cell phone provider about blocking calls from unwanted callers. You can also block calls from numbers that display as "blocked" or "unknown" on your child's caller ID.
For younger children, it can be a good idea to purchase a phone that doesn't have texting capability. Since these phones are becoming harder to find, you may wish to block texts from numbers you don't recognize. Check your child's phone on a regular basis and review texts to make sure that no inappropriate texts or spam are getting through. Parental Intelligence systems can help with this task, and even alert you if your child is exchanging potentially dangerous information.
It is still possible to purchase cell phones that do not have access to the Internet. This can be a good idea for younger children, and even if your child's phone does have the capability to connect to the Internet, you can purchase a plan with no data so he/she can't connect. If you do allow your child to access the Internet from their cell phone, it is smart to keep and eye on what websites and applications they download.
Games can not only increase the cost of your cell phone bill each month, they can also be another way that child predators can access their targets. Most games have messaging or chat functions that allow people to speak with your child that wouldn't otherwise be able to do so. Consider purchasing a phone for your child that doesn't have online game capability. If you allow your child to play games on their phone, you may wish to only allow game access when you are in the same room or otherwise in a position to supervise your child's activities.
The most important key to keeping your child safe when they are using a cell phone is to educate them. Teach your child what constitutes inappropriate behavior on his part and the part of others. Encourage your child to come to you with any questions or concerns, or if someone is contacting them inappropriately via their phone. It's much easier to monitor your child's cell phone use with your child's help. And having an "open door policy" will ensure that they are never afraid to come to you with a problem.
Cell phone monitoring services provide valuable peace of mind for parents. However, these services should be used in conjunction with a good education program for your child, and a lot of oversight on your part. By working together as part of a comprehensive monitoring plan, your child will stay safe and child predators will be thwarted.
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