Kids and Cell Phones

I tend to think of the cell phones I pressed into my kids’ hands as a safety net. I like knowing I can reach my little ones whenever I want to. I know that if they are scared, lost, or just bored at camp they can call me and check in or ask for a ride home. My kids are tweens so I’m also thinking ahead to when they are teenagers and might get themselves in situations they want help getting out of. I might even stoop (okay I plan to stoop) to adding a GPS tracking service to their phone so I can check up on where they really are when they tell me they are going to the library. (I wasn’t born yesterday.) And I know that a kid with a cell phone—even if she is unable to dial it—is much easier to find than one who isn’t. What parent doesn’t like that idea?

But I’m working on an article for a major print publication on this topic and want viewpoints other than my own. Do you worry that it’s dangerous for your kids to constantly Twitter, Plurk, Friendfeed, or even just text message a group about their whereabouts? Are you concerned that they can access smut (albeit really small smut) from their phone? Are they addicted? Do they ignore anyone who isn’t texting them? Are they sharing video in some way that upsets you? What measures have you taken to deal with any of these problems? What’s worked? What hasn’t? Please share details in the comments.

Please note: If you are a PR professional and you have a service targeted at parents of kids with teens, bring it on. I want to hear from you, too.

5 thoughts on “Kids and Cell Phones

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  4. Hi, Christina…can’t wait to read this article, but am I too much of a geek when I say that my daughter is 19-months-old going on Bill Gates and I’ve already thought about cell phone access for her?! Am I crazy or what?

    But you know, I thought you might like the perspective of a mom who has 25 years in the tech biz….I did PR for NEC cell phones waaaay back in 1991 when Japanese children had cell phones (which I thought was crazy but VERY smart, too!)

    Anyway, I can’t help but think that by the time my daughter is 3 that there will be some type of hell-i-cell that just pretty much tracks her by GPS with a stun option for entering inappropriate areas (Hello Kitty stores and the like…).

    P.S. Great blog…I feel I have found a “home” here. 🙂

  5. Hi Christina!

    We solved your specific issue by turning off web access and text access on our phone service. We don’t use that much anyway ourselves so it wasn’t much of a loss. I do not know if the cell companies will do that on a line by line basis but that would be ideal. Anyway – they don’t like to advertise it but you can call customer service and simply say that you want texting blocked for example. And they’ll do that.

    The other trick (for when the teens are ‘going to Mary’s house to hang out’) is to call them and demand to talk to the parent of Mary who is there. Turns out that ‘hanging out at Mary’s house’ sometimes means hanging out in the deserted town park and doing inappropriate things. We had a few kids in our neighbourhood get busted experimenting with drugs in the deserted school playground at eleven at night when they were supposedly at a sleepover.

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