As my kids get older, I’m noticing that more and more friends are getting cell phones at younger ages. The average age a child is given their first phone is 12.1; the average age for a child’s first smartphone is 13.8, but in our neighborhood, I often see 10- and 11-year-olds with iPhones.
Now, as parents, we have another arena we have to supervise – Mobile Safety. Here’s the challenge – once my daughters have cell phones, they can be contacted anytime by anyone — without my knowledge. And once they have a smart phone, the entire internet is at their fingertips. According to AT&T’s Mobile Safety study, one in five children say they have received a bullying text message and nearly half know someone who has received a sexual message or picture over their phone.
The AT&T Mobile Safety study questions were designed to examine parents’ concerns and children’s behaviors, and to better understand where gaps in safety awareness exist today. It surveyed 1,000 parents and 500 children, ages 8-17, and this is a must read, folks. The study showed:
- Almost 70% have answered a call from an unknown number.
- One in four teens ages 15-17 have received mean or bullying text messages (compared to nearly one in five reported by both 8- to 11- and 12- to 14-year-olds).
- More than half of kids report they’ve ridden in a car with someone who was texting and driving.
- 48 percent of children ages 12-14 have ridden in a vehicle with someone who was texting while driving. Among those ages 15-17, the percentage of teens who have ridden with a driver who was texting increases to 64 percent.
- More than half of teens ages 15-17 know someone who has received a sexual message or picture over their phone (compared to 39 percent among those aged 12-14).
- 58 percent of parents say that their mobile phone provider offers tools or resources for parents to address issues like overages, safety, security and monitoring. One in seven is not sure whether they have access to these services.
But one light at the end of the tunnel…. the study also showed that
- 90% of kids think it’s OK for parents to set rules on how kids can and cannot use the phone.
- 66% of kids have rules at home about use of their phone; 92% of these kids think they are fair — and this is consistent across age groups and types of phone (i.e., mobile phone and smartphone).
As parents we can set limit for our kids on their phones and enforce them. 2 out of 5 kids with a mobile phone say their parents have not talked to them about staying safe and secure when using the mobile phone. Its time to step up, parents, and protect our kids and teach Mobile Safety.
To see more, this AT&T Mobile Safety Infographic is really helpful. We’ll be talking more over the next month or two about Mobile Safety and ways we can protect our kids.
Disclosure: I am proud to be part of an AT&T Family Safety Ambassador program. This is a compensated position