When you hand your teen a cell phone, you’re not only giving them an expensive piece of technology, you’re also entrusting them with a device that can access virtually anything on the Internet. As a parent, you can set your mind at ease by spending some time discussing cell phone safety tips with your teen to ensure they know exactly how to use their cell phone safely.
1. Be Careful on Social Networks
Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr or Snapchat, teens love using social media to connect with one another. Although social networks are a fun way to keep up with friends and family, they can also contain hidden dangers.
Cyberbullying is prevalent on social networks, with nearly 1 in 10 teens falling victim to this type of abuse, according to a study done by the National Center for Education Statistics. Talking to your teen about what cyberbullying is and how they can prevent it can help keep them safe among their peers online.
2. Don’t Text Anything You Wouldn’t Want to Be Made Public
While text messages may be intended for the eyes of one person, parents should stress that conversations held via text messages are not private. Recipients can show texts to friends or family; worse yet, individuals looking to do harm can screen capture conversations and post them online. Explain to your teen that anything they say in a text should be something they would be comfortable saying to a room full of people. This applies not only to texts, but to photos as well.
3. Don’t Share Your Password
Though teenagers may not think twice about sharing their password for their smartphone or a social media account, explain the dangers of identity theft to them. Stress the fact that stolen passwords can even be used to break into email or school accounts, or even lead to social media spoofing — where someone takes over another person’s social media account. When discussing cell phone safety, make sure your teen knows that it is vital to always keep their password secret.
4. Use the Block Button
If your teen is receiving repeated messages from an unknown number or is being harassed via social media, it is vital that they block the offending number or account and tell an adult immediately. If the messages are criminal in nature, authorities must also be notified.
5. Protect Your Personal Information
Though teens may be eager to share their phone numbers with family and friends, impress upon them that they need to be cautious when sharing their information. If someone they don’t know well is asking for their number, email address or social networking information, perhaps even promising them something for free in return, it is important that teens know to just say no in this situation.
According to data garnered by the Pew Research Center, nearly three-quarters of all teens have a new or used cell phone. Though you can’t monitor everything they do with their smartphones, discussing these safety tips will go a long way towards encouraging responsible cell phone use.
What other cell phone safety tips would you give to today’s teens?
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