How far will you go to monitor your kids' cell phone use?
Lori Getz: In the last decade, Taser International has been a leader in innovative technology for law enforcement. Their mission is simple: "Protect Life." Now they are bringing that innovation to parenting.
The statistics are staggering:
- More than 20 percent of teens have admitted to sending naked pictures of themselves.
- 1 in 7 kids admitted to receiving pornography on their phone.
- 1 in 3 kids said they had engaged in sexting (either as the sender or receiver).
- 2 out of 5 kids said they had been bullied on their cell phone.
Phone calls and text messages are received by the parent first, then the parent can choose to release the call to the child, deny access, or even permanently block the user from calling or texting. And children, beware ... if you ignore your parents, they can jump into your current call and speak to you directly (it kind of reminds me of the days my mom would pick up the receiver and interrupt my phone conversation after she grew tired of my ignoring her yelling at me through the door).
The software is not yet available, but is coming soon. It is believed to cost about $20.00 per month per account.
Some critics are questioning whether or not this is overparenting. I recently spoke with two parents who did not agree with the critics. They are concerned about their 14-year-old son's iPhone use. He was using the smart phone to download and send pornography to classmates. The parents had spoken with him about their feeling about inappropriate use and ultimately took the iPhone away (hindering his ability to communicate with peers and his parents). The parents were at a loss.
For now, they have decided to get their son a new cell phone without texting or an Internet capability, but they believe they would reinstate his smart phone use if they had an option such as Protector.
I also spoke with a 15-year-old boy that had texted a nude photo of himself to his girlfriend that was subsequently forwarded to the entire high school.
"It absolutely would have stopped me!" he said, with the utmost conviction. "It's weird, having your privacy totally violated like that, but I think I would have been happier never going through the humiliation of having that picture spread around school."
We all know that hindsight is 20/20 -- and teenagers have a difficult time understanding abstract consequences. Until it happens to them, they have a hard time seeing the potential damage. But as parents, we have to ask ourselves: How far do we want to go to impede their ability to make decisions? So parents, the technology is here. How will you use it?
|Lori Getz is the founder of Cyber Education Consultants and speaks to students, parents and educators about Internet safety, security and ethics. She has a Master of Arts in Educational Technology from San Diego State University and is certified by isafe.org as an Internet Safety Specialist. Her mission is to help bridge the gap between a young generation of digital natives and their parents and teachers. She is the mother of one and lives in Los Angeles with her husband.|