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AT&T helping parents with their mobile safety concerns

By: Donna Chaffins | Date: October 31, 2012 | Categories: Children, iPhone, Parenting

Earlier this month I wrote a post about a virtual AT&T Mobile Safety School I was going to attend. I am so glad I was afforded this opportunity. It was a huge help.

I feel more prepared now for when my son is ready for a cell phone. I learned some things I hadn’t thought of, and I realize that I am NOT alone in my worries. There really is something comforting in knowing you are not alone.

Everyone’s situation is different. My son is almost ten and doesn’t have a mobile phone. He has a couple of friends that do. We don’t feel my son needs one. We know where he is at all times. And what few times we are not with him, we know exactly where he is, and there is a way for him or an adult to contact us.

My son does have an older iPhone that he plays games on, but no phone access or texting. When will we allow him to have access? We really aren’t sure. I can’t imagine him needing one for awhile. He hasn’t ever asked for one either, so that makes it easy for now.

I would like to share with you some of the things I learned during the virtual AT&T Mobile Safety webinar…

Many of you have probably either asked or been asked…what the right age to give a child a mobile phone? While we can’t really say what’s “right” – we can tell you that the average age is 12.1. Kids’ first phones by age group:

  • Age 8-11 – average age 9.5 yrs
  • Age 12-14 – average age 11.3 yrs
  • Age 15-17 – average age 13.3 yrs

In addition, we found that, of kids who have mobile phones, 34% have smartphones. Percentage of smartphone adoption by age group:

  • Age 12-14 – 35% have smartphones
  • Age 15-17 – 37% have smartphones

What parents are concerned about in their kids’ use of mobile phones:

  • 89% are worried about texting and driving
  • 67% are concerned about bullying text messages
  • 69% are concerned about sexually suggestive messages
  • 77% are worried about their kids receiving calls from unknown numbers.

What we found interesting is how those worries related to what was actually happening, according to kids:

  • Over HALF have been in a car with someone who was texting and driving
  • Over 1 in 5 have received a mean text message
  • Almost half have a friend who received a sexual picture or message
  • 69% have received a call from an unknown number.

Scary, huh? I’m sure some kids tell their parents about these worrisome incidents, but I would say the majority do not. We have to keep the communication lines open, so our kids feel okay about telling us about them.

We also asked kids about the rules they have on their mobile phones. 66% said they do have rules on their phone usage. BUT, 90% said they would be OK with their parents setting rules. What we see there is an opportunity.

This is something I have always believed… kids really do want rules/regulations. They need guidelines. Even if you think they don’t, they really do. It gives them a scapegoat. They can then blame their parents because they can’t do something.

The findings show that 76% of parents monitor their kid’s phones. Trust me, I would be in that 76%. I have to admit, I wish it were 100%. I know as long as my son is under the age of 18, he is MY responsibility. His safety is my top priority.

I loved the analogy used during the AT&T Mobile Safety School by Lesley Backus and Whaewon Choi of Fleishman-Hillard (who worked with AT&T to develop the Mobile Safety School program):

Culturally, things have shifted. That first step of freedom once was getting the keys to the car at age 16. Now the phone is the new status symbol. It’s not a reason to get a phone for your child, but it is interesting that the phone has become the new ticket to freedom in a lot of ways.

Several questions were raised during the webinar. From “Why do kids 8 – 11 actually need a phone?” toMy son texts a lot and I can’t get him to stop. Any suggestions?”. Many of us parents that were in attendance gave our opinions. And those who have older children were able to give some advice.

I found out that AT&T has a product called Smart Limits for wireless. It’s $4.99 per month, and you can set a monthly limit for the number of text messages you want your child to be able to send.

Another tip I received was to keep the children’s phones charged in their bedrooms, so kids can’t stay up late or all throughout the night texting with their friends.

Boy, things sure have changed. Our kids today are growing up in a fast-paced, connected world. So we better be prepared. I sometimes feel like I’m holding my breath and when my son becomes an adult I can finally breath. Maybe? Nah, probably not.

AT&T has put together a variety of resources to help parents. From learning what other families are doing through videos, or downloadable tip sheets. Check out http://www.att.com/familysafety for a wealth of information available to anyone who is interested.

 

Join the AT&T Mobile Safety Twitter party on Friday, Nov 9 @ 2pm – 3pm EST!
 The hashtag – #ATTMobileSafety
 For more information: http://twtvite.com/attmobilesafety

Disclosure: I received compensation from AT&T and The Motherhood for my participation in this campaign. As always opinions are 100% my own.

31 Responses to AT&T helping parents with their mobile safety concerns

  1. Jennifer says:

    My daughter will be 8 in a couple weeks and I can honestly say it’s going to be a while before she has her own cell phone.

    • @Jennifer, I feel the same way you do. Unless our situation were to change then we will discuss it. I feel better prepared now, though, after attending the AT&T mobile safety webinar.

  2. HilLesha says:

    It’s going to be a long time before I’ll allow my children to have a cell phone.

  3. ANN*H says:

    Thanks for all the great info on mobile phones safety for our kids I wasnt sure of what age to allow them to have a phone . It is very important to let them know about texting and talking on the phones when driving a car. Dont do it ! So many kids are texting all the time so we definitely need monitoring that at all times possible

    • @Ann, It’s scary, I know. There’s no right or wrong answer to what age is appropriate, because there’s so many factors at play. From the child’s actual need for one (maybe they have to walk to and from school, etc.) to their maturity. And I agree with the need to monitor our kids more closely regarding their cell phones, for sure.

  4. I think I fell pretty much in the averages with when I gave them to my kids. I couldn’t agree with you more that kids may fight the rules and guidelines, but they actually like them.

  5. This is great information. I’m definitely passing this on to my friends and family.

  6. I’m with HilLesha. I’m going to push it off until he’s much older than 15.

  7. Richard Hicks says:

    very interesting statistics about age. When I was 12, I was lucky to have a walkee talkee! LOL!

    • @Richard, I had to use soup cans! You think I kid? lol. But I bet my son would love for his friends and him to have walkee talkees. 🙂 Seriously, though, times sure have changed. My son deals with things I never had to deal with, even as a teen.

  8. Mary McCloy says:

    Thanks for the information I will pass it along to my family

  9. Jenn says:

    I didn’t get a cell phone until I was 17 and remember being one of the only kids in my senior class that had one. I’m old. LOL.

  10. Maryann says:

    I worry so much about my kids and cyberspace so I don’t want them to get a phone too early. I hate the bullying that is so easy to do with text messages. It scares me being the parent of a special needs child because he is already an easier target.

  11. Sheri says:

    My oldest was 16 before he got a cell phone, but times have changed a lot in a few short years. The texting and driving scares me the most, for my son and my husband!

  12. Mellisa says:

    My son is 8 and I let him have my old cell phone. It doesn’t have phone service though so all he can do with it is play games and listen to music. It will probably be a few years before I will turn the service on.

  13. My daughter is nine and still doesn’t have a cell phone. I don’t think she will be getting one soon either.

  14. Kayleen Considine says:

    I don’t have children, but I think the whole cell phone issue has gone way too far. I wouldn’t let my child have one until they were at least 16 or 17 unless they really needed one for emergencies. They are way too expensive and the texting has gotten people away from face to face communicating, which is a shame.

  15. This is such great info. I’m looking forward to the Twitter party!

  16. sabrina says:

    I don’t feel that I will give my kids a cell phone ever! My views may change once they are older but I can honestly say that they can get by without one…

  17. Wow, this is a must read for every parent whose child has a cell phone!

  18. Courtney says:

    I’ll never forget my first cell phone I was 17! I had to buy it on my own and all.. all it did was call and text.. Nothing like now.

  19. Lolo says:

    It is great that AT&T is helping educate parents.

  20. Leilani says:

    I didn’t get my first cell phone until I was out of high school. I don’t plan to give my girls cell phones until junior or senior year of high school, and that’s only if they truly *need* one, which I highly doubt they will.

  21. Theresa says:

    My oldest is getting into her late teens and we are just talking about getting her a phone. It’s scary how many kids have phones these days. I can see the need though. Especially if they are walking home from school alone.

  22. Stefani says:

    My 13 year old has a phone, but I feel safer with her having one with her walking to school in the morning.

  23. Claudia Smigel says:

    thinking back when we were kids, we lived without all this technology and now it seems like we cant live without it, but i truly believe that children should be 18 before they need a phone.

  24. I have mixed feelings about kids with cell phones

  25. Marcie W. says:

    My daughter is 8 and we’re just now considering an iTouch without internet access as a holiday gift. (Keyword: considering) It will be a LONG while before she has an actual phone or solo web access.

  26. Jan says:

    I don’t have any kids but I still worry about kids texting while driving. Fortunately in my state, they have made a law against it, so you’ll get fined big time if you get caught doing it. It’s not the answer but it is another way to cut out a possible deathly behavior.

  27. Lindsey says:

    Wow things sure do change fast! I didn’t get a cell phone till my second year of college! I recently looked after a 5 year old whose parents let him use their cell for games all the time. I wouldn’t have even known how to work a cell when I was 5! It’s good to know that there are rules you can establish and ways to monitor them when they do get one. Thank you for this post! 🙂

  28. Toni says:

    My son had his first cell phone at 10.5 but never used it so we turned it off he just got one again and will be 13 soon.

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