Smart Phones are mini computers that give our children instant access to the world and if not used correctly it allows the “world” access to our children.
Children use their cell phones to watch videos, play games, download apps, and most importantly send and receive text messages.
Some kids have found free apps that can be used to hide their text messages from their parents. Although some kids may argue that they have nothing to hide, the following questions would come to my mind: Why do you need that app, what’s wrong with the regular text plan, what’s really going on?
Some of the most popular apps being used to hide text messages are: TextPlus, TextFree Unlimited, TextNow, Brightkite, Group Text, Textie Messaging, and TigerText.
For example: TigerText allows users to set a time limit for a sent text to hang around after it has been read. After the time limit the message will disappear from both the recipient’s and sender’s phone and any servers. The message cannot be forwarded or stored anywhere. There is even a “delete on read” setting, which counts down from 60 after the message is opened and erases it’s text at zero. Poof! – It’s gone.
Practical Tips for parents:
- Set Cell Phone Rules. When my daughter is in the house her friends are encouraged to call her on our home phone. She is not allowed to walk around the house with her cell phone glued to her hand.
- Establish a Cell Phone Curfew. Agree on a time when your child will turn off their cell phone. We set a weekday and weekend phone curfew.
- Don’t allow your child to take their cell phone to bed with them. As adults it sometimes hard for us to stop checking emails, reading texts, and answering the phone – set your child up for success. There is no need for children to have their cell phone in their room while they are sleeping – go ahead and remove the temptation.
- Periodically check the apps on your child’s phone. If you are unfamiliar with an app, ask your child to explain the functionality and why they think they need it. You may also want to establish rules around downloading apps without approval.
- Encourage open communication. Talk with your child about their cell phone usage, ask questions, get in their business, and most importantly – listen.