Last week I attended a mobile safety webinar hosted by AT&T. As we read and listened to the presentation, geared toward parents of children ages 8-11, I was fascinated by the chat stream of moms from all over the country. Mostly, I was shocked that so many children have phones. Mobile phones. Nice mobile phones. Smart phones. Kids have smart phones!
In a survey of 1,000 parents, AT&T found out that the average age for a child to get his first phone is 12. Wow. My oldest is 9 and, well, her dad doesn’t have a mobile phone at all and I only have a pre-paid flip phone, so no… she won’t be getting her own phone any time soon. (Maybe I’ll change my mind when she’s 12? Never say never, but… I doubt it.)
Here’s another one for ya. 34% of children ages 12-14 who have a mobile phone have a smartphone! (That completely blew me away.)
Likely because of where we live, and the fact that I’m home most of the time and have no reason to ditch our landline, I see no reason for our daughter to have a mobile phone until she is driving. My situation, though, is not yours. My location is not yours. My circumstances are not yours. There are many valid reasons why your family may use cell phones more than we do, and I’m not here to argue if your child needs a phone. I just want them to be safe!
What parents are concerned about in their kids’ use of mobile phones:
- 89% are worried about texting and driving
- 67% are concerned about bullying text messages
- 69% are concerned about sexually suggestive messages
- 77% are worried about their kids receiving calls from unknown numbers.
And here’s what’s really happening, according to kids:
- Over HALF have been in a car with someone who was texting and driving
- Over 1 in 5 have received a mean text message
- Almost half have a friend who received a sexual picture or message
- 69% have received a call from an unknown number.
Wow. I’d say parents are right on target with what they worry about!
AT&T has put together a variety of resources to help parents. From learning what other families are doing through videos, or downloadable tip sheets, the wireless safety website  has a wealth of information available to anyone who is interested.
For kids my daughter’s age, the concerns obviously don’t have anything to do with driving. It’s more about phone usage and addiction. Who would have thought 20 years ago that we’d be worried about our children having an addiction to the phone?! During our session, one mom asked, “My son texts a lot and I can’t get him to stop. Any suggestions?” My jaw dropped, and I wanted to answer, “Sure. Take the phone away! Give him a basic flip phone with no texting plan, to be used to call home in ’emergencies’.” And if you didn’t know it before, now you know I’m a mean old lady! 😉 (But seriously, whatever happened to just taking the phone away if there is a problem?)
I did actually ask the group chat why the kids weren’t getting boring prepaid phones (mean old lady!), and one mom replied that it was only $10/month to add the child to their family plan, so that made sense for them.
Ah, yes. I have much to learn, and it will be trial by fire, I’m sure, the next several years! If mobile safety for kids is on your radar and a concern for you, you may want to join the AT&T Mobile Safety Twitter party  on November 9 at 2p ET! The hashtag is #ATTMobileSafety
For those of you who have kids with phones, what are your biggest concerns? How do you “police” the issues? Any other mean old ladies out there?
Disclosure: I’ve been compensated by AT&T and The Motherhood to share mobile safety concerns and tips. All opinions remain, as always, my own.