Contact: Mark Mains, extension specialist for 4-H youth development and netsmartz.org
Technology has advanced at such a rapid pace that our lives are very different than they were even 10 years ago. Responsible technology usage is now a conversation you must have with your child.
Ten years ago, some high school students had cell phones, but in 2010, a Pew study revealed that 58 percent of all 12-year-olds had a cell phone.
While cell phones are an easy way for you to stay in contact with your child, they do come with their own sets of risks. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to teach your child how to wisely and safely use a cell phone before they receive one. Establish rules of when and how the phone should be used and acceptable websites and apps. Remind them to think before they text. While texting may seem more private than social media, pictures and texts can easily be forwarded and put on social media. Insist that they never respond to any texts, friend requests or calls from unknown numbers. Encourage them not to put their cell phone number or password anywhere online.
Review cell phone records for any unknown numbers or late night calls or texts made to your child’s phone. Cell phone providers may offer additional security measures. Contact your provider to learn about any additional protections that they offer.
Age should not determine when your child receives a cell phone; your and your child’s unique situation should. You should consider whether a cell phone is needed to communicate more easily with your child and that your child can use the phone responsibly. Make sure your child understands the rules that come with using a cell phone and the consequences for breaking those rules before they get a phone.
More information on raising healthy, safe kids in a changing world is available at (YOUR COUNTY) Cooperative Extension office.
Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.