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At this age, many adolescents have their own mobile phone. 13-15 year-old adolescents are typically quite familiar with mobile phone technology; it is important to reinforce basic principles and guidelines regarding mobile phone use.
Messaging to adolescents should be developmentally-appropriate, and should parallel messages promoting safety and the Internet:
What 13-15 year-old adolescents 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 social networking sites, 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 adolescents stay safe
- Monitor your adolescent's mobile phone use
- Make sure your adolescent always keeps his/her personal information to him/herself
- Make sure that your adolescent never includes his/her name or phone number on his/her voicemail message
- Tell your adolescent that s/he must have your permission to share his/her mobile phone number
- Ensure your adolescent gets permission if meeting with someone for the first time, and to bring a parent or trusted friend along
- Remind your adolescent that replying to a voice/text message will disclose his/her mobile phone number to strangers via caller ID
- Discourage your adolescent from answering calls from unfamiliar phone numbers
- Limit the amount of time your adolescent spends on his/her mobile phone
- Make sure your adolescent never leaves his/her mobile phone unattended
- Learn how to block calls/messages from unwanted users on your adolescent's mobile phone
- Limit your adolescent's downloading of ringtones, games, etc. to reputable sites
- Make sure any games or ringtones your adolescent downloads are legal and age-appropriate
- Remind your adolescent to be aware of his/her surroundings
- Ensure your adolescent always uses a nickname in chatrooms, IM, etc. that doesn't reflect his/her age, location, or interests
- Reinforce that your adolescent should never respond to any unwanted messages
- Teach your adolescent to trust his/her instincts - that if s/he feels a situation is potentially unsafe, it probably is
- 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