Among kids and teens today, a cell phone is a virtual a social necessity. While the devices can facilitate easier communication with parents or family members and offer protection in some emergencies, they can also invite danger. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children warns that wireless devices can link children with criminals if used inappropriately, or without adequate adult supervision. To help prevent child expolitation, the organization offers the following cell phone and wireless device safety tips for parents and teens:
"Tips for Parents and Guardians
- Set appropriate ground rules for your children’s use of wireless devices. Decide who they may communicate with and how they may use these devices.
- Monitor your wireless bill to keep track of the amount of time your children spend talking and sending messages and with whom. Pay special attention to numbers or messages from people you do not recognize or have not approved.
- Teach your children to tell you if anyone sends them a threatening or frightening message. If your children are being stalked, harassed, or threatened in any way, report the incident to your service provider and local law-enforcement agency. If the material is lewd, obscene, or illegal also report it to www.cybertipline.com or 1-800-843-5678.
- Remind your children text messages may be intercepted or used by others. Teach them to use appropriate language in their messages while being sure not to reveal personal or identifying information.
- Know your children’s passwords and assist them in setting up their account.
- Consider creating settings to control or prohibit access to the Internet, e-mail, and text messaging through your children’s wireless device. Remember a global-positioning system (GPS) option, if offered by your service provider, could be used to help locate your children if lost.
- Monitor your children’s wireless use just as you do their online computer use. Keep the lines of communication open with your children so they will be more likely to tell you if they have concerns about someone contacting them or information they have received.
Tips for Parents and Guardians to Discuss With/Teach Children
- Never share your wireless number and personal or identifying information with anyone you don’t know well and trust and without my permission. Respect your friends’ privacy by never sharing their number or information.
- Never use your wireless device to take, send, or post pictures or video of your friends without permission from their parents or guardians. Taking or sharing embarrassing pictures of someone is a form of bullying and harassment. Once you post an image or video online you can’t get it back.
- Keep your passwords private. Never share them with anyone other than me (and your mom/dad/other guardian).
- Never give photos of yourself to anyone you don’t know well and trust and without my permission. Never send sexually provocative pictures or messages.
- Never respond to threatening or frightening voice messages, text messages, or photos. When that happens tell me or another trusted adult, and we’ll report the incident to our service provider.
- How to block unwanted calls and text messages. Never answer calls or read messages from people you don’t know well and trust.
- Use of wireless technology doesn’t guarantee privacy. Never text with people you don’t know well and trust, and before responding think, ‘Is my reply hurtful or rude?’"
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