The 411 General Guidelines
The following are general guidelines to consider when discussing safe mobile use with your child:
- If your adolescent has voicemail, advise your child to not include his/her name in the greeting message.
- Remind your child not to answer the phone if the number that appears is not familiar to him/her. The same goes for texts.
- Remind your child that it is not possible to withhold a cell phone number when sending text messages, photos or videos. Messages that are sent and received from a mobile phone can be traced.
- Remind your child that sending nude photographs to others is illegal and may result in him/her getting in serious trouble. There are countless examples of photos being sent to a small group of friends that end up being seen by millions around the world on the Internet. It is important for them to understand how a picture could be misused by someone before they choose to send it.
- Empower your child and encourage them to be leaders by not forwarding negative messages or pictures they receive about someone else and to talk to share it with a safe adult if it includes a threat or naked images.
- Encourage your child to tell a safe adult if s/he receives anything inappropriate on her/his cell phone. Hold onto the message as the appropriate authorities may be able to trace it.
- Discuss the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships.
- Teach your child about boundaries and the relevance when sending and receiving messages or pictures. Discuss examples of respecting and breaking boundaries.
- Remind your child that if someone is bothering him/her, they can cut off communication at any time. S/he has control over that!
- Discuss the issue of spamming with your child and remind him/her not to respond to messages offering to sell things.
- Remind your child that ringtones, wallpapers, alerts, or texting short codes are charged at a premium rate. All of these activities should be discussed upfront so that you are not presented with a large cell phone bill.
- Your advice and guidance regarding your child's mobile use will need to adjust as s/he grows older.