You may have noticed that I am all about family safety. This includes physical safety, online safety, and mobile safety. It is very common for teens, tweens, and even younger to have cell phones or even smartphones. Parents want to ensure that they can get in touch with their children at all times. And of course kids want to be one of the in crowd. Some parents may still be of the belief that kids to do not need cell phones, but if you really think about it you just might change your mind.
When I was in high school I took the bus over an hour away to attend one of the best schools in the Chicago area. This took me through many neighborhoods, some not all that great. It was a long trip that was taken in the warm weather, rain, and even snow and freezing cold temps. There were a few incidents that arouse that if I had a cell phone I could have called my mother or father to come and get me right away. Or I could have called to alert them that I would be late.
Two incidents stick out the most. The worst was during a blizzard when the bus that I was on broke down on Lake Shore Drive shortly after leaving Downtown Chicago. We got out of school at 2:46pm. I think we got home after 7:00pm that evening. There was no way to reach our mothers because we sure as heck were not getting off the bus and walking back through the blizzard to reach a pay phone downtown. Luckily we did make it safely, although freezing and hours late. But, our mothers were worried beyond belief by the time we got there.
In my post, Keeping Your Gadgets Safe While Traveling, I gave some tips on protecting your actual devices. But, what about the people that use those devices?
If your child travels to and from school or to extra curricular activities by themselves, giving them a smartphone can help with your piece of mind. This is even more important now in the summer when kids may be going to camp, hanging with friends, and exploring the city more on their own.
Make sure that you consider the following tips:
1. Pick a Great Smartphone – A good smartphone allows you to use tools to help keep your kids safe. An Android phone like the HTC One S is a great example.
2.Use Family Safety Software – T-Mobile’s FamilyWhere app for Android phones can be downloaded for FREE from the Google Play store. The app uses GPS location services to show you where your family members are located. Parents can setup scheduled alerts that will send you a location update at a specified time so you know if your child got to school or home safely.
3. Use Parental Control Software – You worry about what websites they visit on their computer, so you should also worry about what websites they visit on their smartphone. WebGuard is parental controls for the smartphone. You can limit the sites they can and cannot visit.
2. Lay Out the Rules – Make sure that your child knows how many minutes they can use per month. Explain how important it is to stay within those limits. And just to be sure, set limits on their phone using the Family Allowances feature in your T-Mobile account settings… but you don’t have to tell them. 🙂
3. Program in Important Numbers – Before gifting your child with a phone program in important numbers like Mom, Dad, Grandma, Cab Service, and other useful numbers that they should know.
4. Familiarize Yourself With the Phone – Yes, it is true that your teen will probably be a whiz at using the phone right away, but make sure that you know how to use it too. Not only so that you can answer questions, but so if a problem arises and you need to check the phone for iffy content, you know how.
5. Sign Up For a Great Family Plan – T-Mobile offers some great plans for the whole family. Choose one that works for your family.
These are just a few tips. What are some of your suggestions?
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