What age is appropriate for a kid to have a mobile phone?
something for you and your family to decide. Consider your child’s age,
personality, and maturity, and your family's circumstances. Is your
child responsible enough to follow rules set by you and the school? When
you decide your children are ready for a mobile phone, teach them to
think about safety and responsibility.
Phones, Features, and Options
on options and features for your kid's phone. Your mobile phone company
and the phone itself should give you some choices for privacy settings
and child safety controls. Most carriers allow parents to turn off
features, like web access, texting, or downloading. Some cell phones are
made especially for children. They're designed to be easy to use, and
have features like limited internet access, minute management, number
privacy, and emergency buttons.
Be smart about smart phones.
phones offer web access and mobile apps. If your children are going to
use a phone and you're concerned about what they might find online, you
can choose a phone with limited internet access, or you can turn on web
Get familiar with social mapping.
mobile phones now have GPS technology installed: kids with these phones
can pinpoint where their friends are — and be pinpointed by their
friends. Advise your kids to use these features only with friends they
know in person and trust, and not to broadcast their location to the
world, 24-7. In addition, some carriers offer GPS services that let
parents map their kid's location.
Develop Cell Phone Rules.
what you expect. Talk to your kids about when and where it's
appropriate to use their cell phones. You also may want to establish
rules for responsible use. Do you allow calls or texting at the dinner
table? Do you have rules about cell phone use at night? Should they give
you their cell phones while they're doing homework, or when they're
supposed to be sleeping?
Don't stand for mobile bullying.
Set an example.
illegal to drive while texting or surfing or talking on the phone
without a hands-free device in many states, but it's dangerous
everywhere. Set an example for your kids. Talk to them about the dangers
and consequences of distracted driving.
Mobile Sharing and Networking
and sharing on-the-go can present unique opportunities and challenges.
These tools can foster creativity and fun, but they could cause problems
related to personal reputation and safety.
Use care when sharing photos and videos.
mobile phones now have camera and video capability, making it easy for
teens to capture and share every moment. Encourage your teens to think
about their privacy and that of others before they share photos and
videos via cell phone. Get the okay of the photographer or the person in
the shot before posting videos or photos. It could be embarrassing and
even unsafe. It's easier to be smart upfront about what media they share
at the outset than to do damage control later.
Use good judgment with mobile social networking.
social networking sites have a feature that allows users to check their
profiles and post comments from their phones, allowing access from
anywhere. Filters you've installed on your home computer won't limit
what kids can do on a phone. If your teens are using a mobile phone,
talk to them about using good sense when they're social networking from
Whether they are using a smart phone or computer, the words kids write and the images they post have consequences offline.
Kids should post only what they’re comfortable with others seeing. Some
of your child's profile may be seen by a broader audience than you — or
they — are comfortable with, even if privacy settings are high.
Encourage your child to think about the language they use online, and to
think before posting pictures and videos, or altering photos posted by
someone else. Employers, college admissions officers, coaches, teachers,
and the police may view your child's posts.
Remind kids that once they post it, they can't take it back.
if you delete the information from a site, you have little control over
older versions that may exist on other people's computers and may
Tell your kids not to impersonate someone else.
your kids know that it's wrong to create sites, pages, or posts that
seem to come from someone else, like a teacher, a classmate, or someone
they made up.
Tell Kids to Limit What They Share
your kids understand what information should stay private. Tell your
kids why it's important to keep some things — about themselves, family
members, and friends — to themselves. Information like their Social
Security number, street address, phone number, and family financial
information — say, bank account or credit card numbers — is private and
should stay that way.
Talk to your teens about avoiding sex talk online.
shows that teens who don't talk about sex with strangers online are
less likely to come in contact with predators. In fact, researchers have
found that predators usually don't pose as children or teens, and most
teens who are contacted by adults they don't know find it creepy. Teens
should not hesitate to ignore or block them.
Encourage Online Manners
counts. You teach your kids to be polite offline; talk to them about
being courteous online as well. Texting may seem fast and impersonal,
yet courtesies like "pls" and "ty" (for please and thank you) are common
Tone it down.
Using all caps,
long rows of exclamation points, or large bolded fonts are the online
equivalent of yelling. Most people don't appreciate a rant.
Cc: and Reply all: with care.
Suggest that your kids resist the temptation to send a message to everyone on their contact list.
Limit Access to Your Kids’ Profiles
privacy settings. Many social networking sites and chat rooms have
adjustable privacy settings, so you can restrict who has access to your
kids’ profiles. Talk to your kids about the importance of these
settings, and your expectations for who should be allowed to view their
Set high privacy preferences on your kids' chat and video chat accounts, as well.
Most chat programs allow parents to control whether people on their
kids' contact list can see their status, including whether they're
online. Some chat and email accounts allow parents to determine who can
send messages to their kids, and block anyone not on the list.
Create a safe screen name.
your kids to think about the impression that screen names can make. A
good screen name won't reveal much about how old they are, where they
live, or their gender. For privacy purposes, your kids' screen names
should not be the same as their email addresses.
Review your child's friends list.
You may want to limit your children's online "friends" to people they actually know.
Talk to Kids About What They’re Doing Online
what your kids are doing. Get to know the social networking sites your
kids use so you understand their activities. If you're concerned about
risky online behavior, you may want to search the social sites they use
to see what information they're posting. Are they pretending to be
someone else? Try searching by their name, nickname, school, hobbies,
grade, or community.
Ask your kids who they’re in touch with online.
Just as you want to know who your kids' friends are offline, it's a good idea to know who they're talking to online.
Encourage your kids to trust their guts if they have suspicions.
them to tell you if they feel threatened by someone or uncomfortable
because of something online. You can then help them report concerns to
the police and to the social networking site. Most of these sites have
links for users to report abusive, suspicious, or inappropriate
A Word to the Wise...social
networking sites like Facebook typically have age requirements, with no
one under 13 allowed to have their own Facebook page. Parents are
encouraged to think twice before bypassing that system and allowing
younger children access. They may be "good kids," but not as mature as
you might think when it comes to decision making in the more adult world
of social media.
For more information on a variety of topics affecting parents and children, visit the Parent Resource tab on this website.