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What to know about your kids and cell phones

Kids these days. They’re just getting their cell phones younger and younger. It is estimated that of the roughly 20 million American children between the ages of 8 and 12, a third currently carry a cell phone. It’s hard to imagine seven million rugrats roaming around with phones like big people. But it’s true, and that number is only going to increase. By 2010, it is estimated that half of kids in this demographic will have cell phones. Because cell phone ownership is a responsibility as well as a privilege, Comcare Emergency Response Alliance wants to share some safety tips with parents as we enter the summer months.

First, teach your children about 9-1-1. Show them how to dial it from a cell phone, and let them know that because of E911 standards, police officers and EMTs can be dispatched to the scene, because they can locate the phone. This means it’s equally as important to teach children when it is appropriate to call 911 — Comcare defines it as when you are “afraid you will be hurt.” Comcare also recommends you tell your child to make sure to stay on the line after calling 911, and teach them how to describe their current location.

Also, preprogram the child’s phone with all important numbers, including all phone numbers for the parent, plus a few more emergency contacts. Teach the children how to use these shortcuts so they can call when needed. You can even add a keyword prior to the numbers. Comcare recommends ICE (in case of emergency), so ICE Mom Work, or ICE Dad Cell.

Nicholas P. Sullivan has the word on this:

“In a world of split custody arrangements, households in which both parents work, and other factors, the low-cost prepaid phone has made it possible for parents to extend to their children the same kind of ‘safety blanket’ that they rely on in emergency situations. We know from research that more and more adults are placing emergency calls from cell phones. Given that younger, tech-savvy Americans are even more inclined to rely on wireless phones, it is imperative that parents take the time to make sure children understand how to use the phone to be safe.”

Hey, if the child is going to have a cell phone, they might as well learn how to use it safely and responsibly. After that, they can go yap with their friends. Just make sure they’re not going over their minutes (easier said than done).