Today’s tech-savvy kids have a world of digital and social media available at their fingertips. They can call, text, e-mail, surf the web, watch TV and movies, play music and games, take and share pictures and video – all from their mobile devices.
While there are infinite benefits of wireless products and services for kids such as mLearning, mHealth, civic engagement and others, parents around the country are trying to balance the good with the need to prevent their children from using the technology in an irresponsible or inappropriate manner.
According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project:
15 percent of 12-17 year olds who own mobile devices say they have received sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude images of someone they know via text messaging on their cell phone.
54 percent of text-using teens have received spam or other unwanted texts, and 26 percent have been bullied or harassed through text messages and phone calls.
One in three texting teens ages 16-17 say they have texted while driving.
The question that many parents or guardians wonder is, “How do I make sure my children are using their devices responsibly?”
Together with kids, expert educators, parents and The Wireless Foundation, CTIA – The Wireless Association and its members have developed the “Be Smart. Be Fair. Be Safe: Responsible Wireless Use” campaign, primarily focused around its website (www.besmartwireless.com). To help parents or guardians talk with their kids about their mobile device usage, they are offering some simple tips.
Know your child’s service plan such as voice, text messaging, e-mail and Internet access. Be familiar with your child’s phone’s features, as well, such as the ability to take and send pictures or videos or download music or apps. This includes knowing what parental tools your wireless carrier may offer.
Discuss your family’s rules on using mobile devices. This may include certain times and ways of use and consequences if these rules are broken. Make sure to write down these rules and penalties and post them in a central location at home.
Periodically, revisit these rules as your children grow older and wireless technology evolves.
While some children may view this as prying, it is very important that kids know how their parents or guardians expect them to behave and utilize wireless products and services. In addition, children must feel comfortable talking to their parents, guardians, educators or other trusted adults about all of their wireless use – including when they receive questionable content or contact on their devices. CTIA and the wireless industry believe parents and other caring adults are the keys to kids’ responsible wireless use.
“Be Smart” is a national education campaign focused on equipping parents and caregivers so they can teach kids to use their wireless devices responsibly. The website www.besmartwireless.com provides easy-to-understand information, including a listing of wireless providers and the parental features and filters they offer; a glossary of key terms; tips, example of family rules; two free 6th-12th grade educational lessons plans and more.