Many of my friends communicate with their children via text message. It’s easy for the kids to send a quick message from school or when they are at a friend’s house to update so their parents know what they are up to. In my generation, you didn’t need a cell phone when you were in middle school or high school, but now with families having busy schedules, it almost has become a necessity. Keeping in contact with your kids is the biggest benefit of text messaging. You can see an example of how text messaging was a lifeline to this parent whose child was on lockdown during the Arapaho shooting. Without his child having a cell phone, he would have been in the dark if his child was okay.
Despite some obvious benefits, there are some drawbacks to allowing your kids access to text messaging as well. Here are just 4 dangers that they may face when they have a cell phone and send texts.
It seems like everyday that you turn on the news there is a new story about kids getting bullied or committing suicide because they were bullied. The attacks can come from people they know or even people that they meet on the internet. It’s becoming an epidemic.
As kids get older and head into their teens, they start to get curious about their bodies and start wondering about their sexuality. Some teens have started to practice sexting, which involves sending naked pictures or suggestive text to people they know or would like to know. Many scandals have arisen from those text messages getting forwarded. Teens need to work hard to protect their reputations in a digital age and refraining from sexting is one way to do so. Since their relationships are young and volatile, a person who they trust now may be an enemy next week. What’s to stop that person from sharing those private texts that were sent?
Another way kids can become victims is through phishing scams. Even with the FCC cracking down, they still exist and kids are easy pray. They usually come in the form of a text message that tricks someone into replying. Once they reply, they are signed up for a premium service and their bill gets charged. They may never know they are being scammed.
Online predators are everywhere. They lurk on social media, forums and chat rooms. Make sure that your kids aren’t making themselves susceptible to these predators. Tell them to be wary of anyone who they don’t know contacting them online.
What’s the solution? Teach your kids to not give their number out to just anyone. Also, they should never be sharing their phone number on social media sites like Facebook. Unfortunately many have their number on Facebook right on their profile and may not even realize it. Some of those phone numbers show up in their “friends” contacts in their phones. I was surprised when I linked my social media accounts to my phone how many private phone numbers showed up. If their phone number is in their profile someone that they don’t know could be text messaging them.
Image Credit: David Castillo
Jill Myers is a mom and drivers education instructor. When not helping others learn to drive, she is contributing her knowledge to the blog at Phone Sheriff, parental control software that helps parents keep track of what they are doing online.