Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Kid Cell Phone and Internet Tips
It is that time of year where kids begin to give their parents subtle hints about what they want for Christmas. Among the most popular items are the newest cell phones, computers or gaming systems. Although those items are really cool, they can also be dangerous. Become familiar with what you are buying. Do your research! Here are some helpful tips from the Bryan Police Department to keep your kids safe.
Cell Phones are a great way for families to stay connected. Now cell phones come with cameras, social networking applications, internet access and GPS technology. Buy a phone that suits you and your child’s needs. Create a “contract” so your child fully understands how and when they can use their cell phone. You should also discuss punishment for a breach of contract ahead of time. Then post that contract in visible place like on the refrigerator in the kitchen. Here are some more issues to discuss:
• Cell phone cameras – A camera is a very cool gadget to have on a cell phone but when used irresponsibly it can get a kid into trouble quick. Opt out of a cell phone camera until you feel your child is responsible enough not to send inappropriate pictures to their friends. You can also get with your cell phone carrier to block images from being sent or received. Warn them that once they send a picture to someone else, it can’t be taken back. If the picture makes its way to the internet, it will be there forever.
• Texting/multimedia messages – Talk to your cell phone provider and see what options are available for parents to control who your child can talk to or who can talk to your child. That also goes for what kind of messages can be sent or received. Do random checks of your child’s phone to see what they are saying and who they are saying it to.
• Minutes and use – Set a limit on how and when the phone can be used. A good idea is to charge the phone in the parent’s bedroom at night. That way the temptation to use the phone at 2am is not possible.
• Internet access – Check and see if the phone has internet access. There may be limits you can place on the phone by your cell phone provider.
• Remember, the point of the phone is to have contact between the parent and child. It is not intended to be an unmonitored toy or a social networking tool.
Computers are a popular gift idea. You can find some great internet safety tips at www.netsmartz.org . The site is parent and kid friendly. Here are some computer issues to think about:
• The main concern of computer use is internet access. Set time limits when internet service is available. Set passwords on the wi-fi internet access so you child can’t override any parameters you set.
• Keep the computer in a common area such as the kitchen and living room. Perhaps set the computer up so the screen is visible to everyone. Take notice if your child minimizes or closes the screen as you walk into the room. That’s a sign that they could be doing something they shouldn’t!
• Contact a store that is familiar with computer safety software that you can install on your computer to track what sites your kid is visiting. You can also set limits on what sites you kids can access.
• Some gaming systems come with chatting capability. Check with the retailer to see if the system you are purchasing has that feature.
• Be responsible with what you access over the internet. If your child discovers you are looking at something they should not be, it may give them the message that it is okay for them to view it.
The most important tip is to talk to your child about being safe. Give them scenarios and ask what they would do if someone tried to send them something inappropriate or tries to contact them in person. Get involved in your child’s social networking tools (Facebook, twitter, emails, texts, etc) because if you don’t no one else will. Leaving a child unmonitored on social networking sites that are connected to the World Wide Web can leave them vulnerable to inappropriate media or contact.
Officer Jon Agnew
Public Information Officer
Bryan Police Department
© Copyright 2003-2013, City of Bryan