THE MOST DANGEROUS GIFT – A CELL PHONE
The following blog was written by Julie. She is a teacher of 23 years and mother of 8.
One of the most popular but dangerous gifts is a cell phone. In this day and age almost everyone has a cell phone. If a person was only able to talk and text, things wouldn’t be so bad but unfortunately almost all cell phones have internet access and that access is usually unfiltered. This opens up a very dangerous world to our young people.
I remember when my school received our first computers. We were so excited. The students couldn’t wait to use them. I remember one of my students asking if she could type in her name to see what would come up. When she did I heard a scream. When she typed in her name it sent her to a porn site. She was shocked and didn’t understand what it was. This was back in the late 80’s. I will never forget that day. An innocent young mind saw something that will probably stay in her mind forever.
Fast forward 20 plus years to the present. Research states that one in two boys and one in three girls have looked at porn on the internet. What’s more disturbing is that 93% of boys and 62% of girls when exposed to internet pornography will deal with it on their own. Unfortunately this can lead to a lifetime of problems. What are they using to do this? Their cell phones. When parents buy cell phones for their children, the most important concern should not be the style of the phone but the capabilities to filter out inappropriate things. We need to protect our children from the most dangerous gift. The cell phone takes our innocent, sweet children and introduces them to inappropriate things, allows them to spend more time on the phone and less time with their family, and allows them to communicate through text message and social media such as Facebook and Instagram instead of face to face with a real person. We are losing the human touch. People spend countless hours on the internet communicating instead of spending quality time with one another. Sometimes things are texted that are hurtful because it is easy to text hurtful things since the person isn’t really there. Those same things probably wouldn’t have been said if the person was face to face with the other person.
To protect our kids and intervene when needed, parents need a plan for media use. They need to follow, enforce, and update the plan throughout the year because technology is constantly changing.
Use Software to Protect Them
The first step is to download software that monitors how the device is being used. Using software to monitor internet usage allows parents to catch small problems before they become big issues. Pornography is not the only problem online. There are such issues as cyber bullying, social media sites, chat rooms, and You Tube.
Limit Screen Time
Limiting screen time encourages better choices because kids are less likely to surf the Web out of boredom. The parent should set up an internet account allowing the child a certain amount of data each day.
Talk Talk Talk
Talk to your teens about internet safety on a regular basis. Let your teens know that you are mature enough to handle their conversations about porn and other inappropriate things they might see on the internet.
Practice Internet Safety
Parents must be consistent upholding the technology rules of the house. It is important to establish them as the family norm. Here are some best practices:
1. Kids should only use internet enabled devices in open or common areas–not in bedrooms or behind closed doors. At bedtime, the devices should be put in the parent’s room so the child can get a good nights sleep and be ready for school the next day.
2. Set clear rules and teach them how to use the internet wisely.
3. Become knowledgeable and stay up to date with the latest apps and social media sites.
4. Know all user names and passwords for any social media sites or anything that requires a user name. Being a friend on Facebook isn’t enough as social networks allow the user to hide interactions.
5. Kids should never share personal information or talk to strangers online.
6. Video chat should only be allowed with a parent present.
7. Do not allow picture messaging as children are sending inappropriate pictures to one another. Discuss what sexting is and the consequences associated with it.
8. Talk to your child about cyber bullying and share true stories of teens that have experienced it. Discuss the consequences.
9. Learn how to monitor smart phones and check your teen’s phone as often as possible for apps or inappropriate material.
10. Being a good cyber parent requires consistent action. Stay informed and keep a watchful eye.
If you are going to give your child the most dangerous gift please take my advice:
1. You are the parent and you are in charge of the phone.
2. You make the rules and, if they aren’t followed, the child loses the phone.
3. Put filters on the phone so your child isn’t exposed to inappropriate things.
4. Set time limits with the phone so your child doesn’t forget that he has a life outside of his phone.
5. Put the phone in your room at night so your child can get a good nights sleep
6. Put the phone away during homework time
7. Put the phone away during meals and family time
8. Search your child’s phone weekly.
9. If you have Verizon, use the Family Safe Guards to monitor your child’s usage.
10. Do not allow your child to have picture messaging.
11. Do not allow your child to have a Facebook or Instagram. They are just like chat rooms. You don’t know who you are really talking to and nobody should know all your information anyway.