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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Smartphones can be a great safety net for your children. They can provide instant communication with your child when they are out of your sight. With the proper software, a parent can even see the location of their child using the smartphone's internal GPS tracking. A smartphone can definitely provide parents with great peace of mind, but a smartphone can also be dangerous if used in an unsafe manner. Fortunately the risk to your child can be significantly reduced if you discuss just 5 simple safety tips with your child.

But before you can discuss smartphone safety with your child, you need to be aware of one of the best ways you can help your child stay safe while using their smartphone. You as a parent must learn the technology. Your child is probably very comfortable using a smartphone. Teens and even young children have grown up with technology. They are not intimidated by a smartphone. It is just a communication device to them, and a typical child will spend time exploring and experimenting with the various features of their smartphone. As a parent you must also spend time learning to use the advanced features of your child's smartphone. If you do not know the full capabilities of your child's smartphone, then you cannot be fully aware of all the potential dangers to your child. One of the best things you can do to protect your child is to learn as much as you can about your child's smartphone. 

With that said, here are 5 simple smartphone safety tips you should discuss with your child.

1) When not to use the phone - Any phone, especially a smartphone, can be a distraction. If a child or teen is giving some of their attention to their smartphone, then they are not giving their full attention to their surroundings or any other task they are doing. Texting while driving or even when crossing the street is very dangerous. Parents need to let their children know when they can and cannot use their smartphones, and the parents need to enforce their rules.

2) Posting photos - Children and even many adults need to be warned that once something is posted to the internet, it will basically be there forever. A photo posted on a social network could be used against the child long after they become adults, so posting a photo should be done cautiously.

3) Cyberbullying - According to the Federal Trade Commission about 17 percent of middle school children have been the victims of some type of cyberbullying. This bullying may have been in the form of hurtful text messages, comments on social networks, or the posting of embarrassing photos on the internet. Parents should advise children to let an adult know if they have been a victim of cyberbullying, and that they should never participate in the bullying of another person.

4) Never arrange meetings with strangers - Social networks are great for connecting with friends and making new friends online, but children, teens, and even adults for that matter need to be aware that just because someone says they are a certain age online does not mean they are really the age they say. Children should be warned to never arrange a meeting with someone they meet online.

5) Vacations - Children like to keep their friends informed about the things going on in their lives, and social networks are one of the prime methods used by children. While normally they post relatively harmless information, they need to be made aware that posting information such as when their family is going on vacation can be very dangerous. Social networks are inherently unsecure, and sensitive information about when someone's house will be empty has a habit of reaching the eyes of unscrupulous people. A comment from a child letting their friends know their family will be on vacation the following week could be a written invitation for someone to rob their house.

Smartphones are here to stay, and they can be a powerful communication tool for both the parent and the child. However like all powerful things, they can be both good and bad. Parents who take the time to discuss just a few safety tips with their children have gone a long way in insuring their children's smartphones will be a good part of their lives.

Author Bio:
Jean Kerr, the author recently took out a new 
mobile phone contract for her daughter and has been anxious about her safety using it.

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