If you spent most of your life without one this can be hard to imagine, but according to SafeSearchKids, 77% of teenagers today have a cell phone.
While these gadgets can help families keep in touch, there are also lots of risks involved. Today's cell phones have lots of features that can easily be overwhelming, and if your children don't know what they're doing they can wind up in serious trouble.
If your kid has a cell phone, or they'll be asking for one soon - and trust us, they will be - you should learn these tips to help them use it safely!
1. Teach them the basics
When we grew up our parents made sure we knew all of the rules for the telephone, including not to speak with strangers and not to waste money on long calls. Don't assume your kids remember these lessons as well as you do!
2. Explain ALL of the fees involved
Parents often get mad when their children waste money on their phones, but usually they've just made an honest mistake. When you set up their plan, guide them through all of the extra fees and charges so they know from the start. Remember: nothing is free!
3. Buy the right phone
Your kids will beg for the absolute newest phone on the market, but you know they don't need it. They might not even really need a smart phone. If you just want to be able to keep in touch with them, don't pay for any extra features that they could get into trouble with.
4. Limit their time
Remember: you decide how your child uses their phone and you decide when it needs to be taken away. Make firm rules about when they're allowed to use it, and make sure you both follow them.
5. Read the manual
There are lots of ways you can customize your child's phone. There are parental locks, time restrictions, you can turn the web off entirely and lots more. Take the time to learn what controls you have.
6. Be involved to stop cyber bullying
We worry that our kids will be picked on online, but it's also important to remind them to mind their manners. Talk to your kids often about how they treat people online and how others treat them, then decide what to do about it.
7. Be very firm on texting and driving
There are lots of resources online about this dangerous activity, but what's important to remember is it's easy to avoid. Make them keep their phone off, in their bag, in the glove compartment or somewhere else safe every time, and have a serious discussion if they ever break the rules.