There are a number or issues we face as parents with kids and teens both on the net and cell phones. From child predators and sexting to cyber-bullying and driving while texting, it’s more important than ever that we as parents band together to ensure our children practice safe habits in the wireless world.
Talking to our kids about safe social practices isn’t always easy. Many of us may be unaware of the issues they face, so educating ourselves is the first step toward educating our kids. Get involved and find out all you can about the dangers they may face, so you can approach them from an educated standpoint and easily answer questions they may have.
Set firm rules, not just about Internet time, but cell phone usage as well. Even with an unlimited family plan that doesn’t bring you an outrageous phone bill each month, kids need to understand there are appropriate times and places to use their phone. Make sure they understand how to be considerate, not just when talking on their phone, but when they use their phone in public. They should know it’s not polite to have their phone ringing in the middle of a crowded restaurant or movie theatre, but most especially during school hours.
Share with them the dangers of texting and talking while driving if they are of driving age. A lot of adults don’t seem to understand how much of a distraction it is, so kids follow the examples they see. Talk with them about things like distraction and delayed reaction time when their concentration is inhibited by their cell phone.
Monitor their cell phone to make sure they are following the rules. A lot of kids feel like it’s an invasion of their privacy, but as a parent you have the right to know who your children are talking to and texting. It could reveal a bully they’ve been hiding out of embarrassment, or even reveal poor behavior on their part you aren’t aware of.
The same goes for Internet usage. Monitoring your child’s online habits and behaviors could mean the difference between life and death. It sounds dramatic, I know, but child predators prowling the Internet for innocent victims are very real. They may try to trick your child with lies about their own age, and tempt them to meet up somewhere.
After setting up your rules, and talking to your child, have them sign a contract to hold them to their promise to practice safe and healthy Internet and cell phone usage. Keep the lines of communication open, don’t be afraid to set limits and always practice what you preach.
Future generations raised during the Wireless Age will practice the habits they learn now, so why not do everything in your power as a parent to make sure their practices are safe, smart and polite.