1. Safety Center: Family

Teen Mobile Safety

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With smartphones, teens have portable and private access to the online world in their pockets. Everything they can do on a laptop, they can also do on a smartphone. This access goes beyond just text messages and phone calls--they can communicate and share through a number of free applications, not just through the apps that come with phones or gaming consoles.

This access can open up opportunities for your teen to learn and to communicate. It also makes talking to your teen even more important. Talk to them about what apps they use and with whom they are communicating. Set rules and guidelines prior to giving them a phone in order to help them make smart choices with technology.

One of the best ways to know what guidance to give is to know what the phone is capable of, and what kinds of apps they want to use.

Here are some things to consider when you’re preparing to talk to your teenager:

  • Are they able to purchase apps on their phone?
  • Do the apps they use share their location? Is it shared with just friends, or is it public?
  • Do the apps let them talk to people they don’t know?

Remember that helping your teen learn how to behave responsibly with technology isn’t a single conversation -- it’s an ongoing process. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Set a solid foundation – Talk about responsible use of technology, be open to learning about how they use their phone to interact with their friends, and let them know that you are available to help them make smart choices.
  • Follow through  – Popular apps change often, and teens may encounter different challenges that you didn’t anticipate when you first gave them the phone, so make sure you keep the conversation going.
  • Turn off, turn in – Help your teen set boundaries to maintain balance by establishing usage rules including what time to turn off their devices at night.

New technologies and products can give your teen the opportunity to explore and grow. Staying in the know can help your teen do so safely.