Internet Safety

Every month I team up with U.S. Cellular and share a little about my Samsung Galaxy S6 Smart Phone.  This is one of those posts.  If you have a kid or grand kid with a smart phone you might want to check out this parent child agreement on cell phone use.   You can find that here.

At my house, with the childcare kiddos, I have old cell phones that they play with.  In fact, old cell phones are probably one the things they play with the most.  I’m always on the look out for more phone as they unfortunately are fought over a lot too.

It’s so cute to watch them play with the phones.  They flip their phone open and tell me to “say cheese” and then “snap” my picture.  They “call” their parents at work.  The funniest thing happened one day.  One of the girls, 4 years old at the time, said, “Look what you did.  You used up all the data and now my phone doesn’t work!”  I wonder if they had heard that before in a conversation between their parents.

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Seeing the kids with cell phones makes me think about how young kids are now when they first get cell phones.  The average age children receive cellphones is 13, according to a recent U.S. Cellular survey. Safety is cited as the main reason for this decision.  Another recent study by the Pew Research Center found 92 percent of teens report going online daily, with 24 percent noting they go online “almost constantly”.

While smartphones and tablets can enhance and simplify our lives, sometimes parents struggle with how much freedom to give their kids – online as well as offline.  Since every family is different, U.S. Cellular’s goal is simply to be a resource for information to help parents have open communication with their kids about Internet activity so they can make the best decision for their family.

The majority of parents establish rules about their child’s cell phone usage, and seventy percent of respondents in U.S. Cellular’s most recent survey noted they always or frequently monitor their child’s cell phone use.

Here are some tips that U.S. Cellular has provided to help parents monitor their children’s online activities and facilitate conversations about the use of mobile devices:

Have an agreement with your children. U.S. Cellular has created a Parent-Child Agreement to help guide families’ conversations about mobile phone usage. The agreement focuses on safety and etiquette, and it’s customizable based on each family’s specific needs

Discuss online communications: Beyond texting, increases in the use of social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have opened up new communication pathways for teens. U.S. Cellular recommends that families discuss the importance of never posting harmful or hurtful comments on others pages and always being responsible for what is said online.

Set boundaries for online sharing. Make sure your child knows to never share personal information online. That includes their name, age, address, school and sports teams, as well as any passwords. Also, remind them to communicate only with family or friends and not to answer unsolicited requests or texts.

Post photos appropriately:  We all know how eager kids are to capture and share photos, but today’s kids don’t realize that once those images are online, they are in the public domain and can even be modified by others. Talk about guidelines for sharing photos with friends and alert them to never post photos which could contain information about where they live or be seen as inappropriate. It’s also best to not post or share photos or videos of others without their consent.

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Use parental controls. The NQ Family Guardian app is available for $4.99 a month on Android devices and provides safety and security by monitoring your children’s location and mobile usage. This service allows parents to review their child’s calls and texts, and restrict certain websites and apps. Children can even send their parents an alert with the simple press of a button if they are in trouble or find themselves in an uncomfortable situation. For iOS users, there is a wide range of parental-control options that are automatically available in iOS 9’s Settings app.

Regardless of what guidelines parents set up and establish with their children, it’s important to do our best to keep our kids safe.  I’m just happy that my little kiddos hanging out at my house have phones that don’t have batteries and the only internet surfing they can do is in their imagination.

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