Thursday, August 1, 2013

What I Learned About AT&T’s Mobile Safety School

October 31, 2012 by  
Filed under Odds & Ends

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Mobile safety is an ongoing concern for my husband and I with our 13 year old daughter. We have struggled with when she should get her first phone, what limitations we would place on it and if we should take it back when not in use. We struggled for two reasons. The first is we want to know that she is safe more or less any time she is away from the house. The second is that we want her to feel like we trust her, and never giving us any reason not to, we gave her her first cell phone when she was 12.

I recently sat in on a Mobile Safety Session put on by AT&T and I learned a lot about how to protect my daughter and some interesting statistics. I will share those with you as well as my thoughts on them.

AT&T conducted a study of 1,000 parents and 500 kids – ages 8-17 – on a variety of topics that relate to mobile phones, devices and other issues.

Many of you have probably either asked or been asked…what the right age to give a child a mobile phone? While we can’t really say what’s “right” – we can tell you that the average age is 12.1. Kids’ first phones by age group:

  • Age 8-11 – average age 9.5 yrs
  • Age 12-14 – average age 11.3 yrs
  • Age 15-17 – average age 13.3 yrs

In addition, we found that, of kids who have mobile phones, 34% have smartphones. Percentage of smartphone adoption by age group:

  • Age 12-14 – 35% have smartphones
  • Age 15-17 – 37% have smartphones

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.

What we found interesting is how those worries related to what was actually 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.

We gave our daughter a cell phone at the age of 12, not a smartphone though. It was a decision that we had been struggling with but when we moved to Montana for a year we decided that everything was so far away that we wanted to be able to get in touch with her at all times. We even monitored via GPS where she was on a trip with another family. Problem was, that as much as we wanted to be able to reach her being in remote areas you don’t always have service especially in the mountainous area we were in. After we moved back to Florida we did give her a smartphone so she would be able to keep up with her peers and keep in touch with us. It is very calming to be worried and get a response back right away saying all is well. I think we will probably keep that same age when our youngest reaches it, then she too will get a smartphone.

The biggest concerns for us are bullying and sexual suggestive texts or calls. As a parent I check with her all the time about those two things, and we respect her privacy and just talk to her about it, however if we ever felt even for a second that she was being bullied or receiving  and making sexual texts I would take her phone and go through it no doubt. As far as the texting and driving go, I lead by example, I put my phone in the drink holder while I drive and do not respond to texts or phone calls while driving. I have been known to pull over and respond if it is an important call or text, most of the time I have someone in the car read my message and respond for me. I have talked to her and have told her when the time comes I never want her to get in a car with someone who texts while driving.

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 website at http://www.att.com/familysafety has a wealth of information available to anyone who is interested. I highly recommend you check this site out, especially if you are struggling to find information to help you make the important decision about Mobile Safety.

Join me for the AT&T Twitter party on Friday, Nov. 9, at 2p ET.

Here is  Twtvite: http://twtvite.com/attmobilesafety

I am working on the AT&T Mobile Safety campaign via The Motherhood. All thought and opinions are 100% my own.

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