While devices such as the iPhone 6s and iPad Pro help families feel secure and stay connected, users of these high-tech devices need to know how to avoid compromising their personal safety online, and parents can play a key role in guiding mobile usage.
According to a recent U.S. Cellular survey [from a total of 735 online interviews conducted among a nationally representative sample by Consumer Insights, in partnership with Maritz CX] , the average age a child is getting their first phone is 13, with safety cited as the main reason. Seventy percent of respondents note that they always or frequently monitor their child’s cell phone use, while almost three quarters have rules about their child’s cell phone usage.
“The latest mobile devices operating on a high-quality 4G LTE network with nationwide coverage can keep families better connected to each other and the Internet more than ever,” stated Dorsey Ragland, director of sales for U.S. Cellular in Missouri.
“At U.S. Cellular, we encourage parents to take the time to have open discussions about what works best for their family, and we want to be a resource as parents make decisions on their child’s first cellphone and the related Internet use.”
U.S. Cellular shares five easy tips for parents to facilitate discussion about Internet use on mobile devices and to raise digitally responsible children:
- Have an agreement with your children: U.S. Cellular has created a Parent-Child Agreement to help guide families' conversations about mobile phone usage. The agreement focuses on safety and etiquette, and is customizable based on each family's specific and evolving needs.
- Discuss online communications: Beyond texting, increases in the use of social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat open up new communication pathways for teens. Discuss the importance of never posting hurtful or hateful comments on others pages and always being responsible for what is said online.
- Set boundaries for online sharing: Make sure children know to never share personal information online, including their name, age, address, school or passwords. Remind them to communicate only with family or friends and not to answer unknown requests or texts, click on unfamiliar links or download attachments unless they are from a trusted source.
- Post photos appropriately: Today’s kids are eager to capture and share photos, but many fail to grasp that once photos are online, they are part of a public space, and can even be modified without their knowledge. Discuss appropriate guidelines for sharing photos with friends, and alert them to never post photos that could contain information about where they live or be seen as inappropriate. It’s also a good rule of thumb to not post or share photos or videos of others without their consent.
- Use parental controls: The NQ Family Guardian app, available for $4.99 a month for Android devices, provides safety and security by monitoring your child's location and mobile usage. This service allows parents to review their child's calls and texts, and restrict certain websites and apps. Children can also send their parents an alert with the simple press of a button if they are in trouble or find themselves in an uncomfortable situation. For iOS users, there is a wide range of parental-control options that are automatically available in iOS 9's Settings app.
While these steps can help promote online safety today, the Internet is constantly evolving, as is the technology surrounding it, and teens also are ever changing how they consume information and interact in this digital age. To help parents stay informed and well positioned to help their teens become responsible digital citizens, local schools, police departments and other community groups offer seminars on internet safety. U.S. Cellular also offers device workshops for the entire community, including those who are not U.S. Cellular customers, providing a great opportunity to learn more about the many features of today’s smart devices and how teens may be using them to connect and engage online.
To learn more, join the U.S. Cellular team on June 25, 2016, at 8:30 a.m. at 1630 S. Range Line Rd., Joplin.