Role of parents
How can I reduce the risks to my child/adolescent associated with mobile phone use?
As outlined in the Know the Risks section, there are many ways parents can reduce the risks posed by mobile phone use to their child/adolescent. Key areas of focus should include:
- Keeping personal information private and communicating only with people known in the real world
- Discussing GPS technology and advising that this feature should only be used with friends
- Emphasizing that photos/video should never be shared by mobile phone and provide case examples that demonstrate why this is an area of concern. Once sent, information cannot be retracted and may result in stress and potential harm
- Staying on top of who your child/adolescent is contacting, and the functions and applications being used to talk and message with others
- Encouraging communication with a safe adult if any inappropriate content is received or discovered
- Placing time limits on mobile phone use. Children/adolescents shouldn't be allowed to stay on their mobile phone for hours at a time when at home, especially when unsupervised
For age-appropriate safety recommendations specific to mobile phones, see the
Safety Strategies page.
What else can I do as a parent?
- Begin the dialogue NOW—it's never too early, but it can be too late
- Consider taking the mobile phone from the child/adolescent at bedtime to avoid late night text messaging and sleep deprivation
- When purchasing a mobile phone for your child/adolescent, make sure the sales representative is talking to you about the phone's features, plans and contracts—not to your child/adolescent. Make sure you are in control of the dialogue—don't let a sales representative try to entice your child/adolescent into a phone or plan because of features s/he knows children/adolescents like
- Become familiar with how your child/adolescent uses his/her mobile phone, and the mobile/Internet environments that your child/adolescent uses/visits
- Supervise and monitor your child/adolescent whenever possible while s/he is using his/her mobile phone
- Ensure that your message regarding mobile phone safety is age-appropriate
- Set an example—make sure your actions parallel your words. As the parent, you know your child/adolescent better than anyone else. S/he will look to you to model appropriate behaviour