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At this age, children take great interest in having their own mobile phone, and have been exposed to mobile phone technology through television, advertising, peers, siblings, and parents. It is important to establish basic principles and guidelines regarding mobile phone use.
Messaging to children should be developmentally-appropriate, and should parallel messages promoting safety and the Internet:
What 10-12 year-old children enjoy doing with mobile phones
- Calling friends
- Text messaging (which could include multimedia like audio or video)
- Instant Messaging (IM)
- Using the phone's web browser to surf the Internet, check email, visit chatrooms, etc.
- Using the phone's web browser to download ringtones, games, wallpaper, etc.
- Taking pictures/videos of themselves/friends
- Playing games
Key strategies to help children stay safe
- Monitor your child's mobile phone use
- Make sure your child always keeps his/her personal information to him/herself
- Make sure that your child never includes his/her name or phone number on his/her voicemail message
- Tell your child that s/he must have your permission to share his/her mobile phone number
- Teach your child that replying to a voice/text message will disclose his/her mobile phone number to strangers via caller ID
- Discourage your child from answering calls from unfamiliar phone numbers
- Limit the amount of time your child spends on his/her mobile phone
- Stress that your child never leave his/her mobile phone unattended
- Learn how to block calls/messages from unwanted users on your child's mobile phone
- Limit your child's downloading of ringtones, games, etc. to reputable sites
- Make sure any games or ringtones your child downloads are legal and age-appropriate
- Teach your child to be aware of his/her surroundings
- Reinforce that your child should never respond to any unwanted messages
- Stress that if your child feels uncomfortable with a call or text message, it's okay to turn off the phone
- Teach your child about the public nature of text messaging. What s/he texts to someone can be shared with anyone. To avoid potentially uncomfortable situations, stress the importance of being very careful about what s/he includes in a text message