Santa came to town and your child finally has the cellphone she has been begging for! And your gift? Peace of mind now that you can connect with your child virtually anywhere. But not so quick! While that new cellphone provides numerous benefits, you want to make sure your child is using it responsibly.
Below are some tips and tools compiled by AT&T to help parents of first-time cellphone users stay in the driver’s seat of their child’s wireless activities.
- Set boundaries. Make sure your child understands how her device is and, more importantly, is NOT to be used. Are you okay with her using it for surfing the mobile Internet or for gaming, or is the device to be used for calling and texting only? Define how, when and where she is allowed to use her new cellphone. Make sure she understands you have the right to monitor her activity on the wireless device.
- Discuss the do’s and don’ts of texting. Since texting is the primary mode of communication for most young, wireless users, set rules for when she can do it. One option is to allow texting at specific times – no texting at school, no texting until homework is done, no texting after she’s in bed, and if she’s a teen, of course, no texting and driving.
- Check privacy settings on social media. Make sure you set the privacy settings on whatever social media your child uses but emphasize that there is no privacy. The more private, the less likely inappropriate material will be received by your child, or sent to their circle of acquaintances. Make sure your child understands that everything sent over the Internet or a cellphone is public and can be shared with the entire world, so it is important that they use good judgment.
- Take advantage of parental controls and location-based services. Ask your wireless provider about parental controls and location-based services available to you. For example, Smart Limits allows parents to block unwanted calls and texts from up to 30 numbers; set monthly limits on texts and mobile purchases; and restrict texting, data usage and outbound calling during specified times of the day. And with location-based services like FamilyMap, users can locate a family member’s cell phone on a map via Web browser on a PC or a mobile device. Such tools provide parents with peace of mind while away from their children.
- Learn how to track your child’s wireless usage to control cost. All wireless providers offer ways for you to keep track of the number of minutes and amount of data used on a device. From an AT&T device, you can dial *MIN# to see how many minutes have been used or *DATA# to check on data usage.