As parents, you may have purchase your child a cell phone as a means of protection so that your youngster would never be caught somewhere without a ride or could always call home to check in. What you may not have been aware of is the dangers that cell phones can cause. Due to the Internet connection available on most cell phones, your kids can become targets of bullies and sex predators.
Statistics show that that approximately two-thirds of U.S. children between the ages of 10 and 19 have cell phones. In other parts of the world, the rate is even higher. In Japan, for instance, more than 80% of high school students and 25% of junior high school students had cell phones. Great Britain and Scandinavia also have high rates of children with cell phones. These other countries are where many disturbing statistics are coming from.
The Japanese Cabinet Office surveyed teenagers with cell phones and found 37% of teenage males and 30% of teenage females had accessed dating sites. These sites had led to some girls having unwanted sexual relations with men that they met through these sites.
Another danger with the newer cell phones is the ability to share photos and videos taken with a cell phone which can mean that just by pushing the wrong buttons, your child’s picture, phone number, and e-mail address can be sent to the wrong person. You can also download pictures from a cell phone and place them on the World Wide Web for everyone to see. That is why some schools have banned cell phones from restricted areas such as locker rooms to prevent inappropriate pictures being taken. As well as pictures that your child may be sending from their cell phone, they are also able to view inappropriate material away from home and you may know nothing about it.
Another problem with cell phones is that they are phones. As well as sending kids pictures, sexual predators can also contact them through their cell phone number to arrange a meeting when the kids are outside their parent’s control. Most cell phones have caller ID, which means the minute that your child contacts this person, the person has their cell phone number.
As well as sexual predators, bullies are also using cell phones to harass other children. This has become a major problem in Great Britain, where 16% of young people say that they’ve received threatening text messages as well as 7% that say that they have been harassed in chat-rooms. Another 4% claimed to be bullied by e-mail. If your child is the victim of such harassment, check with your wireless provider about getting the phone number changed.
Another problem with cell phones is that these phones are equipped with geo location systems so that dispatchers at 911 can pinpoint the phone’s location in case of an emergency. While this tracking system is supposed to be secure, it is not infallible. If the wrong person has the know-how, he can track your child wherever they are.
There are several measures that you can take to protect your child. First you should discuss the situation with them, explain that they should never text messages to anyone that they do not know personally. If they still persist in texting everyone, trade their present plan for a prepaid one with a limited amount of minutes. With fewer minutes, your child will have to decide to talk on the phone or to text. Since texting is usually more expensive, your child will probably go back to just talking on the cell phone, which is what you had originally planned for them to do in the first place.