A few weeks ago, I offered a giveaway to one lucky SAHM Reviews reader to attend a webinar on mobile safety. While I was thrilled to be able to give one of my readers this great opportunity, I was even more thrilled to be able to participate in it myself.
As a 40-something with tweens, sometimes I feel old and out of touch. Being able to stay fresh and learn the latest in trends and issues is important to me. I attended the webinar, presented by AT&T, addressing matters for children ages 8-11 and boy, oh boy, was I surprised by some of the data provided.
If I didn’t feel old before, I sure do now…
Miss M will turn 10 soon and Miss K recently turned 8. There isn’t much of a reason for them to need a mobile phone because at this age, I usually stay at their practices or leave only for short times and make sure I am back before the end of practice. Both DH and I are at home so there’s always someone here when they get off the bus. However, I see many families who don’t have the flexibility in scheduling like we do so they might drop one child off at practice in order to shuttle another elsewhere. Or they are single parents or working parents and there is a potential for the children to be latchkey kids. In these cases, how young is too young for a mobile phone? According to the webinar, the overall average age for children to get a mobile phone is 12. Focusing just on the age bracket for the webinar (8-11), the average age for children within that window to get their first phone is 9.5.
Don’t tell my daughters that… they think they need one. You know, for calling friends while they’re at home.
What was more surprising was the statistic that 34% of kids with phones have smart phones. That opens a whole ‘nother can of worms. With smart phones, they have more access to things. More opportunities to stumble across things that aren’t necessarily appropriate. As parents, we know that kids need structure and rules but that goes for their phones, too. Guess what: A whopping 90% of kids surveyed said they would be okay with their parents setting rules. Smart phones are a privilege to have and kids realize that. Yet 2 of 5 kids say their parents haven’t talked to them about mobile safety. Their parents have been more likely to talk to them about more traditional dangers such as strangers, drugs, alcohol and sex. As I said, we haven’t given our daughters phones yet but personally, I had never considered mobile matters a concern… until now. Maybe because we never had an issue with any of this growing up. It didn’t effect us personally and it isn’t that we can’t relate as much as that it just doesn’t come to mind like the issues that were drilled into our heads growing up.
The webinar addressed put together a great slide on parent perceptions versus reality. This slide came directly from the webinar so credit goes to AT&T and The Motherhood for supplying this great information!
Some of the other concerns addressed were financial in nature – like kids downloading too much or texting past limits. AT&T offers a Smart Limits option where parents can add controls to the number of texts a child sends out. You can also use the Family Map feature to track where your child is. No matter what your concern is, AT&T has you covered. With their downloadable family-friendly resources, you can find tips on everything from age-specific tools for Raising Digital Citizens to Bullying and Privacy.
AT&T put together a great presentation as well as offered a Q&A session. One of the most interesting tidbits I heard was something non-evasive yet filled with control. Set a rule that the child needs to charge their phone nightly… in the parent’s bedroom. It prevents misuse while ensuring that the phone leaves the house fully charged so it is available for use when it is truly needed.
If you have a child – of any age – with a phone, be sure to check out the safety study results to see how you compare. If you are on the fence about getting your child a phone, there are some great resources for that, too.