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At this age, many adolescents have their own mobile phone, and have typically integrated mobile phone technology into their daily routines; however, it is still 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 16-17 year-old adolescents enjoy doing with mobile phones
- Calling friends
- Building intimate relationships (dating)
- 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, wallpaper, and MP3s
- Taking pictures/videos of themselves/friends
- Playing games
Key strategies to help adolescents stay safe
- Remind your adolescent not to include his/her name or phone number on his/her voicemail message
- Remind your adolescent to only share his/her mobile phone number with people s/he trusts, and who won't share the number with others
- Remind your adolescent about the public nature of text messaging. Discuss the possibility of someone sharing what s/he texts with someone else. Stress the importance of being very careful not to send a text when upset, or one that might include anything personal.
- Stress to your adolescent that mobile phones shouldn't be used to engage in intimate conversations with others - either voice mail or text messages could be saved and shown to/played for other people
- Talk to your adolescent about not sharing his/her friends' mobile numbers
- Discourage your adolescent from answering calls from unfamiliar phone numbers
- Remind your adolescent to block calls/messages from unwanted users
- Remind your adolescent to be aware of his/her surroundings
- Ensure your adolescent never discloses his/her location when updating blogs or social networking sites remotely
- Remind your adolescent to save any messages with malicious content, and to share them with you or another safe adult in case it needs to be reported
- Ensure your adolescent never arranges to meet someone from a chatroom, IM, etc. alone