Thursday, November 18, 2010

iPhone or Blackberry? And Who's Your Kid Texting?

So are you an iPhone person? Or Blackberry? Or Android? Or do you not have a clue what I'm talking about?
Well, we're in the age of technology and these are the major players in the mobile phone market. Cell phones have now become smart phones. Interestingly enough, for many of us, the thing we do least on our mobile phones is talk. With the internet and thousands of applications at our fingertips, talking on these phones is almost an afterthought.
A teenage family friend from our church told me that in a typical month, she uses less than 1,000 minutes of talk time but she sends and receives over 15,000 text messages. Not 1,500 but 15,000! Wow! That's like 500 per day!
Just like any popular modern invention, these phones have revolutionized the way we go about our daily lives. They're great but they come with drawbacks. Technological advancement is good but as parents we also need to be cautious.
Television, for instance, can be a useful tool. We watch the news and our kids watch educational programs such as Sesame Street. But television also features programs with violence and material that's just not suitable for all audiences.
The gun is also another good example. Police officers use them to protect the public. And people use them to protect their families. But in the hands of people with a different mindset, guns can become dangerous weapons that destroy the lives of many.
So we understand that it's not technology that we need to be cautious about but rather the use of technology.
As parents, many of us get cell phones for our kids for practical reasons. We need to be able to remain in contact with them. And also, it's good for them to be in contact with their friends. Plus the phones have games and other features that are nice tools for kids.
These same phones however can be used for unhealthy purposes. With easy internet access, they can access websites that are inappropriate for children - whether it's violence or pornography or some other inappropriate website.
How often do we hear of people meeting someone online and that leads to a nightmare story? Our wonderful children, under the wrong circumstances, could end up in one of these stories.
Regarding text messages and picture messaging, who do your kids text? And what's the nature of those 'silent' conversations? And who's sending them pictures or who are they sending pictures to? Makes you think, right?
Here are a few tips I think will help you safeguard your kids' use of their phones:
·         speak with them about the benefits as well as the drawbacks of having these powerful devices at their fingertips
·         set up password protected parental controls on the phones, to whatever extent possible
·         spot check your kids' cell phone activity. Examine the phones for the persons who they text and the websites that they visit. (NOTE: There are some privacy issues that need to be considered, particularly when our kids become older teenagers. We're not looking to see who has a crush on who - we're looking to make sure they're not going down a destructive path with the phones we provide for their convenience)
I hope that these tips are of some benefit to you. Part of being a loving parent is looking beyond what everyone else sees. It's not that you don't trust your kids - it's because we live in a world where the most unpredictable things happen. If we can protect them from the darkside of these great inventions, then we will have done them a favor, despite how they might feel about it.
So you see, with technology comes responsibility. Let's endeavor to do our best to protect our kids while they enjoy the marvels of technology!
The Upbeat Dad

1 comment:

  1. This is food for thought. I have always felt it is better for them to be upset with me, but safe from the dangers they are unaware of lurking in the dark