Wireless technologies offer numerous benefits for kids and parents, including education, health management and entertainment. While the newest devices, apps and content typically receive the most attention, wireless services and devices are public safety tools. Parents and kids have peace-of-mind knowing that help is only a phone call away. At the same time, kids may be so excited about all the other benefits wireless services and devices offer that they don’t realize there may be financial and behavioral costs associated with its use.
To ensure that kids use wireless technology responsibly, parents and kids must set their family’s rules and expectations. CTIA and its members have developed a family rules template to help start the conversation. It’s okay if kids already have a cellphone because parents and kids can create or modify their family rules at any time. In fact, CTIA recommends that parents and kids have a discussion about appropriate wireless use at the beginning of each school or calendar year. By setting out what’s appropriate and inappropriate, kids will know their parents’ expectations when they use wireless technology.
As kids use wireless technology, it’s vital they know their family’s rules on Dollars and Sense. The amount of service needed or what was acceptable wireless usage for an 11-year-old may differ when the kid turns 12.
In addition to setting the family rules, here are a few tips to help parents find the right wireless services for their families and teach their kids how to use wireless responsibly:
The wireless industry offers a variety of tools, services and features to help parents manage their kids’ wireless usage. To more effectively use these tools, parents should look for:
A wireless provider’s plans, policies and service offerings for voice, data and texts
Choosing the right service plan can help limit unsolicited calls or texts and inappropriate downloads, content or purchases.
A wireless provider’s parental control tools
Using these tools, parents should choose the phone functions and service capabilities (e.g., contacts, downloads, applications, location based services, etc.) available on kids’ wireless devices.
A wireless handset's built in parental management and safety features
Using these tools, parents should manage and password protect kids’ use of the Internet, camera, music, video, games and applications, including in-app purchases.
It is essential that parents and kids keep an open dialogue about wireless service and device usage. To help parents start the conversation, CTIA and its member companies recommend using the family rules template
, which uses the five W’s of wireless safety—who, what, when, where and why:
Who can kids contact?
What can kids "do" with their wireless devices?
When can kids use their wireless devices?
Where can kids use their wireless devices?
CTIA and its members believe that no one, regardless of age, should ever text while driving and many state and local governments are banning such activity.
CTIA and the National Safety Council developed the "On the Road, Off the Phone" campaign to remind kids that when they're on the road, they are off the phone.
Use parental control features and location based services to set other locations (e.g., religious buildings, schools, libraries, etc.) that kids should not use their devices.
Why does this matter?