As a parent, you may have bought your child a cell phone as a means of protection so that they are never caught somewhere without a ride or can always call home to check in. What you may not have been aware of is the dangers that mobile phones can cause. Due to the Internet connection available on most cell phones, your children can become targets of sexual stalkers and predators.
Statistics show that approximately two-thirds of American children between the ages of 10 and 19 have cell phones. In other parts of the world, the rate is even higher. In Japan, for example, more than 80% of high school students and 25% of high school students had cell phones. Great Britain and Scandinavia also have high rates of children with mobile phones. These other countries are where many disturbing statistics come from.
The Japanese Cabinet Office surveyed teens with cell phones and found that 37% of teen boys and 30% of teen girls had accessed dating sites. These sites led some girls to have unwanted sex with men they met through these sites.
Another danger with newer cell phones is the ability to share photos and videos taken with a cell phone, which can mean that by simply pressing the wrong buttons, your child’s photo, phone number, and email address can be sent to the wrong person. . You can also download images from a cell phone and put them on the World Wide Web for all to see. That’s why some schools have banned cell phones in restricted areas, like locker rooms, to prevent inappropriate photos from being taken. In addition to the images your child may be sending from their cell phone, they may also be viewing inappropriate material away from home that you may not know about.
Another problem with cell phones is that they are phones. In addition to sending photos to children, sexual predators may also contact them through their cell phone number to set up a meeting when the children are out of their parents’ control. Most cell phones have caller ID, which means that the moment your child contacts this person, the person has their cell phone number.
In addition to sexual predators, offenders also use cell phones to harass other children. This has become a major problem in Britain, where 16% of young people say they have received threatening text messages and 7% say they have been harassed in chat rooms. Another 4% claimed to be bullied by email. If your child is the victim of such bullying, check with your wireless service provider to change the phone number.
Another problem with cell phones is that these phones are equipped with geo-location systems so that 911 dispatchers can pinpoint the phone’s location in the event of an emergency. While this tracking system is supposed to be secure, it is not foolproof. If the wrong person has the knowledge, she can track her son wherever he is.
There are several steps you can take to protect your child. You should first discuss the situation with them, explaining that they should never text anyone they don’t know personally. If they still persist in texting everyone, change your current plan to a prepaid one with a limited number of minutes. With fewer minutes, your child will have to decide whether to talk on the phone or text. Since texting is usually more expensive, your son will likely go back to talking on the cell phone, which is what she originally planned for him to do in the first place.