Don’t Forget the Other Screen
The “mobile Internet” allows instant communication to an unlimited number of individuals and instant access to all of the powerful resources of the web. Despite the many benefits of this mobile technology, kids have easy access to pornography and other harmful content; predators and cyberbullies can access kids 24 hours a day, seven days a week; and kids can post reputation-damaging content through devices that fit in the palms of their hands.
Unfortunately, as we travel the country talking to parents about protecting kids online, many of the adults that monitor their children’s use of the computer do not also monitor their children’s cell phone use. A study that came out earlier this month by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that relatively few kids have rules about talking or texting on their cell phones. The study also highlighted that cell phones have morphed from a way to hold a conversation into a way for kids to consume more media. “Eight- to eighteen-year-olds today spend half an hour a day (33 minutes) talking on their cell phones, and an average of 49 minutes a day listening to, playing or watching other media on their phones (17 minutes with music, 17 minutes playing games, and 15 minutes watching TV).”
Not surprisingly, another study indicated that kids who pay for their own cell phones are more likely to send sext messages. I can’t help but think that in a world where one picture or one post can have a permanent, lasting impact on the lives of young people today, and that as children are engaging with media and each other through their mobile devices, parents need to be involved. A report out from Europe titled “Online as Soon as it Happens” points out the risks of accessing and engaging online (primarily on social networking sites) via mobile devices. The report highlights that social network users upload and view photos, send and receive messages, and accept friends now through mobile devices.
Many parents have no idea that their children can–and often are–doing so much through their mobile devices, which is why we at Enough Is Enough encourage parents to apply Rules ‘N Tools® across all Internet-enabled devices children use.
- Set clear rules with your children regarding when they are allowed to talk, text and surf the Internet via their mobile device.
- Children should only communicate with parent-approved contacts.
- Talk to your children about respecting others online. Your child should never text something to someone else that they would not say to them in real life. Communication should always be truthful, encouraging and helpful. If your child receives a threatening, mean or sexual message from someone they should come to you immediately.
- Talk to your children about privacy. Discuss with them how there is no such thing as privacy through their mobile device, and there are no “take-backs” with what they post, text, upload or send. Content your kids send through the Internet or their mobile device can be distributed across the world, without their permission or knowledge.
“Parents really have to realize no matter what computer screen or mobile screen your kids are looking at, that’s a real world for kids, and they are having real experiences online. They’re accessing content and parents need to come to the realization that there are a lot of things their children are doing on mobile devices they should probably know about.”