Providing a back-to-school cellphone for your child is a big step both for the youngster and the parent.
I sincerely hope every parent learns the use of the tablets or phones they are giving their children, including computers. You need to know the workings to keep your children safe!
Now that children integrate technology into their daily lives, parents need to keep abreast of their kids’ activities. Here are some timely tips from Kelly Starling, our partner at AT&T, regarding what parents can do to ensure their children use technology safely.
▪ Set boundaries. Make sure your child understands how her device is and, more importantly, is NOT to be used. Are you okay with her using it for surfing the Internet or for gaming, or is the device to be used for calling and texting only? Define how, when and where she is allowed to use her new cellphone. Make sure she understands you have the right to monitor her activity on the wireless device.
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▪ Discuss the do’s and don’ts of texting. Since texting is the primary mode of communication for most young, wireless users, set rules for when she can do it. One option is to allow texting at specific times — no texting at school, no texting until homework is done, no texting after she’s in bed, and if she’s a teen, of course, no texting, web surfing, video chatting, or taking selfies while driving. All messages can wait.
▪ Check privacy settings on social media. Make sure you set the privacy settings on whatever social media your child uses but emphasize there is no privacy. The more private, the less likely inappropriate material will be received by your child, or sent to their circle of acquaintances. Make sure your child understands that everything sent over the Internet or a cellphone is public and can be shared with the entire world, so it is important that they use good judgment.
▪ Take advantage of parental controls and location-based services. Ask your wireless provider about parental controls and location-based services available to you. For example, AT&T has Smart Limits which allows parents to block unwanted calls and texts from up to 30 numbers; set monthly limits on texts and mobile purchases; and restrict texting, data usage and outbound calling during specified times of the day. And with location-based services like FamilyMap, users can locate a family member’s cellphone on a map via web browser on a PC or a mobile device. Such tools provide parents with peace of mind while away from their children.
▪ Learn how to track your child’s wireless usage to control cost. All wireless providers offer ways for you to keep track of the number of minutes and amount of data used on a device.
Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.