Three tips for smart phone safety

With families’ busy schedules today, it’s often easier for everyone when the kids, like the parents, have a cell phone. In a lot of ways it helps parents keep better tabs on their kids’ whereabouts. The problem is tracking their whereabouts online.

From cyberbullying to predators, a lot of trouble is lurking out there. It leaves parents wondering what they can do to keep their kids safe while enjoying the benefits of having a phone. These tips can help.

#1 Choose the right phone. Perhaps your child really doesn’t need — or isn’t ready for — a smart phone. Several simpler phones actually cater to kids and allow parents to block or restrict access to certain features. Check out Kajeet or Zact.

#2 Choose the right service. While most phones have usage and access controls, most kids know how to deactivate them. They can’t, however, deactivate controls you apply through your service provider. Most offer options to filter content, block purchases and set caps for texts and minutes. Many are free, but we also like Verizon’s Usage Control (an additional fee) that allows you to block and designate contacts.

#3 Set the rules. You’ll want rules about cell phone etiquette as well as around when and where the phone may be used, keeping the battery charged, social media use, texting only people they have met in person and good judgment when it comes to photos. Many parents find that simply warning their child that random phone checks may occur is a sufficient deterrent.

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