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Children and Mobile Phones

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 31 Jul 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Children And Mobile Phones

It is estimated that 65% of children between eight and 15 years of age own or have access to a mobile phone in the United Kingdom. Clearly, children and mobile phones have become compatible but just how safe is it for children to carry these devices? Very safe - as long as children follow some basic precautions such as looking after their possessions and communicating only with known numbers. Some parents also advocate installing tracking systems on children’s phones so that adults are aware of their location at all times.

Looking after Possessions
Unfortunately, flashy mobile phones with all of the bells and whistles are quite frequently stolen by those greedy for this new technology and kids can be viewed as easy targets for theft. To avoid anything untoward, kids should be taught to keep their mobile phones handy without waving them about. Great places for mobile phones to travel include inside coat pockets and zipped inside backpack or bag pockets. Pencil cases and external backpack pockets are not ideal for mobiles as they leave the devices open for other’s inspection and, possibly, jealousy. Children should also be taught that when they need to make a phone call or text, they should do so without fanfare. Not only will this avoid attracting unwanted attention but it’s just good manners as well.

Only Communicating with Known Numbers
It can be hard for kids to remember multiple phone numbers, so if your child is going to be using a particular mobile phone frequently it is good practice to enter the names attached to those numbers. When this is done children will be able to see that “Mum” or “Uncle Ted” is calling and they will know that it is safe to answer. This works equally well for outgoing calls, such that they know that they can call “Police” immediately and get help without having to think of the telephone number. Also crucial is inputting an In Case of Emergency number with an adult’s first name, such as “ICE Belinda”. In the event of an emergency this number will allow anyone who finds the phone to easily get in touch with your chosen contact.

Just as important is to remind children never to answer (or make) calls or texts from telephone numbers that they do not recognise. Not only does this keep children from conversing with strangers but it also ensures that they will not inadvertently dial premium numbers or subscription services. Children should also be taught never to accept pictures that are sent via text to their phone. If a call or text does come in from an unfamiliar or blocked number, children should take the phone to a parent immediately.

Tracking Systems for Mobile Phones
Installing tracking systems on mobile phones remains controversial, but many parents enjoy the security of being able to check where their children are without having to call them up and ask. These systems allow others to either track the movement of a mobile phone online or by sending a text to the service which then sends a reply including the phone’s (and thus the child’s) location and the accuracy of the assessment. There are also many companies that offer family rates for mobile phone tracking services.

There are no 100% guaranteed ways of keeping children safe when they use mobile phones, but there are measures that parents can take to help protect their children. Making children aware of when, where and how they use their phones, as well as installing tracking software on the phones, are all steps that parents across the UK use to help keep their children safe every day. But mobile phone safety needn’t be chore.

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