Look both ways . . . before you give your kid a cell phone.

Look both ways before crossing!

A lesson learned about putting technology in the hands of our children.

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A friend of ours, we’ll call him “Dad”, purchased a new cell phone for his 12-year old son, whom we’ll call “the son”. This wasn’t the son’s first phone, but a replacement, and it had more bells and whistles than the first.

Everyone was happy.

Until one day, when the son said, “Watch Dad!”

The son pushed a button on his phone, held it up to the stereo speaker where some music was playing, and behold, listed on the phone screen was the name of the song, the album and the band. “See, my phone can tell me what music is playing where ever I go. I just hit this button and it automatically ID’s it. I can even download the song right to my phone if I want to!”

“Um, wow son, I uh, I think it costs money to do that.” said the Dad fearfully.

The son cheerfully responded, “No Dad, it’s free! It’s a free app I downloaded.”

Dad, “I don’t think so. I think you get charged for air time son.” 

And in a flurry of panic, Dad ran off to call the cell phone company. He quickly melted into a pile of shock when he learned that the son had rung up a cell phone bill of more than $1,000 and the month wasn’t even over yet.

After much crying, pleading and begging by the Dad, the generous cell phone company knocked 50% off the bill. Wheww!! Half the bill gone, but in my book 500 bucks is still a lot of money.

Dad then took the time to research where it had all gone wrong and discovered that his son’s nifty new phone had some pretty nifty music capabilities, with lots of free applications. The applications were free, but each time they were used, it ate up bandwidth, and that cost $1.99 per MB. 

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Would you let your kids cross the street on their own, much less play in it, without teaching them about the dangers involved? Of course not, but I see more and more parents handing these technology laden gadgets over to their kids without educating themselves or their children before letting them out loose to play.

Sadly the dangers out there aren’t as simple or benign as an astronomical cell phone bill. Built in cameras, text messaging, picture messaging, mobile TV and internet capabilities opens our kids up to a world of temptation and serious pitfalls if we’re not educated and diligent guardians for them. 

If your kid gets hit by the world of technology that is traveling full-speed ahead, as a parent, you only have yourself to blame if you haven’t done your homework and educated your kids.

 

Interesting, shocking and helpful links about kids and cell phones

Have You Heard of Sexting?
Kids take nude pictures of themselves and send them to all their friends.
In January of 2009, Dr. Phil featured a 12-year old girl on his show who fell into this trap. 

Texting on the Move
Walking and texting has increased visits to the local ER.

Students Texting to Bully and to Cheat on Tests
Cheating, bullying and inappropriate conversations via texting.

Managing Cell Phone Use by Children
This article lists some options for controlling your kids cell phone use, including who and when they call or text, and what they can view and receive.