Mobile Safety

Jul 19, 2012

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AT&T commissioned a market research company, GfK, to conduct a study involving 1,000 parents and 500 children between the ages of 8-17. The goal was "to better understand the landscape for families and mobile phones."

The results may shock you but the conclusion shouldn't: kids need structure to safely live and prosper in a digital world.

It's no surprise that kids like to use technology. When asked, "If you had to choose one device to use for the rest of your life, what would it be?" The majority said they would choose a mobile phone above all else--computer, television, tablet. This might be due to the fact that most kids receive their first phone at the age of 12.

Have you noticed how often kids use their phones? It seems to be a non-stop, daily occurring activity. Openly admitting this, 75% of kids think their friends are addicted to phones.

"Addiction" to device usage can turn dangerous, especially when 53% of kids report riding in a car when the driver texted.

Another danger is receiving unwanted messages, whether in the form of cyberbullying or sext messages. One in five kids have been bullied via text message and 46% of kids 11-17 yrs old say they have a friend who has received a message or picture that their parents would not have liked because it was too sexual.

These activities are serious and need to be handled with care. What can parents do?

Talk with kids and set rules. It's true that many parents are weary of setting rules. They fear that children will rebel against the rules. According to research, parents have less to fear about obedience than they might think. Ninety percent of kids think it's OK for parents to set rules on how to use the phone. The majority of kids even think the rules are fair and seek to comply with them.

When seeking to protect children with devices, the downfall is communication. Rules can be set, but without honest, open communication, kids don't understand the importance of abiding by the rules nor do they know how to react when dangerous situations arise. Two out of five kids with mobile phones say their parents have not talked to them about staying safe and secure when using them.

Thus, the message is clear. Talk about this with your kids.

I work for ContentWatch and all opinions expressed here are my own.