As I mentioned earlier, Kate is growing up. Despite the fact that I’m not a fan of this, it’s a reality. However, for this generation, there’s a new layer in the coming-of-age drama – cell phones.
Quick, someone tell Judy Blume to write a book about this!
But fortunately, until “R U There (OM)G, itz me Madison” comes out, AT&T has launched a mobile safety campaign to help us navigate these new waters and keep our families connected and our kids safe.
AT&T surveyed 1000 parents and 500 kids ages 8-17 about their families’ use of mobile phones. Here are some of the results.
- The average age of kids getting a smartphone (smartphone!) is 13.8. (I was 31.8, but you know, whatever.)
- 89% of parents are worried about their kids being in a vehicle with someone who is texting and driving, and 53% of kids have actually been in that situation. (I am thoroughly ashamed to admit that my 8 year old tells me to put the phone down when we are in the car.)
- More than 1 in 5 kids have received a mean or bullying text message from another kid on their mobile phone.
- Almost half (46%) have a friend who has received a message or picture that their parents would not have liked because it was too sexual.
- Only 66% of kids say they have rules on their phone usage, but 90% of them say it’s ok for parents to set rules on their phone usage.
AT&T has a website (www.att.com/familysafety) where you can find all the resources you need for dealing with kids and mobile devices – all sorted by age group. One of the best ones I found is a sheet on raising responsible digital citizens. Among other things, it suggests that we:
- Model good behavior. Turn off your mobile phones and electronic devices during dinner or while participating in family activities.
- Pay attention. Know where your kids go online and what they’re doing there.
- Impart your values. Cheating, lying and being cruel online are not acceptable.
- Establish limits. Set clear time or texting limits and time of day restrictions so children know when it’s appropriate to use mobile phones or technology.
- Encourage balance. Support their interest in offline activities that don’t require a gadget or mobile device.
- Make kids accountable. Using digital media is a privilege.
The ball is in our court, people. We’ve got to step up to the plate!
How’s that for a mixed-sports metaphor?
Disclosure: I’m working with AT&T and The Motherhood to discuss mobile safety issues and have been compensated for my time, in case you were wondering.