Recent research tells us that 22% of children ages six to nine own a cell phone, as do 60% of ages 10 to 14 and 84% of teens. Combine those stats with today's souped-up cellular devices, and it's a recipe for risky behaviour.
Today's phones are essentially a computer in your pocket — a video camera, camera, and web browser that moves with you everywhere you go, and it is this mobility that provides greater potential for bad decisions, especially when kids are outside of the home.
1. Reduce cell phone usage as much as possible
While lacking solid evidence of the effects of electromagnetic fields of cell phones, the known data presses us to take simple measures of precaution, and this is especially important for younger users. Make sure phones are fitted with a headset attachment or wireless Bluetooth headset, which has less than 1/100th of the electromagnetic emission of a normal cell phone.
2. Cater phone functionality to age
If your child is under 10, they probably don't need a phone with unlimited social networking or email capabilities. Likewise, the actual phone itself doesn't need built-in features like a web browser or video messaging. For a young child, look for basic phones. Review all pre-programmed apps and phone capabilities beforehand.
3. Use parental controls
If your child's cell phone has access to the Internet, see what your service provider offers and consider enabling them. Have your kids password protect their phone and enact controls like web browsing limits, allowances on talk, and text — and auto-wipe of data if your child's phone is lost or stolen.
4. Pre-program numbers
To help keep your kids safe, make sure their cell phones have all important phone numbers pre-programmed so they can always reach someone quickly if they're in trouble.
5. Screen all calls
Instruct your child not to answer calls or text messages from numbers they don't recognize. Explain that if it's important, the caller will leave a message and then he can decide how to respond. It's easy to do: Just find out your carrier's call block code, typically, "*" followed by two numbers and show your child how to block unwanted numbers.
6. Limit Usage
Designate time slots for talking — perhaps after homework and chores are completed, or before dinner. Don't let constant calls interrupt family time. It's also easy for a chatty teen to cuddle up to a phone at bedtime, so check periodically.
7. Practice Privacy
Tell your teen to use caution when giving out a phone number. Make sure they don't publicize their number on the Internet or social sites like Facebook.
8. Restrict Downloads
Fun ringtones, games, and backgrounds — oh my! But be careful. These features come with potential bugs or hidden fees. A lot of kids will want to sign up for every app but limit them to a couple of favourites and make sure they understand those privacy policies thoroughly.
9. Keep control
As the mother of two boys just out of their teens, I have a fair idea of what goes on, both on Facebook and with sending and receiving semi-indecent images. If you've never been on Facebook, take a look at what your child might experience and, while older children may not accept a policy of openess, regularly checking on Facebook pages will ensure that your child is not at risk.
10 Cell Phones and Wireless Devices That Emit the Least Radiation
- Samsung Impression
- Motorola RAZR V8
- Samsung SGH-t229
- Samsung Rugby
- Samsung Propel Pro
- Samsung Gravity
- T-Mobile Sidekick
- LG Xenon (GR500)
- Motorola Karma QA1
- Sanyo Katana II
10 Cell Phones and Wireless Devices That Emit the Most Radiation
- Motorola MOTO VU204
- T-Mobile myTouch 3G
- Kyocera Jax S1300
- Blackberry Curve 8330
- Motorola W385
- T-Mobile Shadow
- Motorola C290
- Motorola i335
- Motorola MOTO VE240
- Blackberry Bold 9000
NOTE: These are US models.