Recently, an email was passed along to me on behalf of Shane Neman, CEO of EZ Texting (www.eztexting.com), regarding the dangers of texting. Now, I am not a sponsor of, or affiliated with, EZ Texting, but I think the points here are worth considering, so I'm passing them along to all of you as well.
A Parent’s Guide to Kids & Safe Texting
1) Never Text & Drive. While this may seem obvious, many people ignore their common sense and do it anyway, especially teenagers. Many states have banned talking on mobile phones without a hands free device while driving. They have the right idea, never text and drive. Don’t let the cost of a few headsets stand in the way of your child’s safety. If you have to, suspend driving privileges.
2) Sexting. Another ‘seemingly obvious’ rule. Talk to your kids about the practice, and about peer pressure. A survey by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that more than 50 percent of the girls who "sexted" did so under pressure from boyfriends. If either party involved is under 18, the pictures may be considered child pornography. Make it clear to your child that ‘sexting’ is not a way of being intimate with another person, and that there are other, more private, more appropriate, alternatives.
3) Text and walk. This one’s for parents & kids: Always keep your eyes ahead of you, not on your phone. This is especially true when walking on a busy sidewalk or crossing an intersection. When using your cell phone, it’s very easy to get distracted and lose focus on what is taking place around you. A study by the University of Alabama found that children speaking on a cell were 43 percent more likely to be hit or to have a close call in simulated street crossings than kids who weren’t on the phone.
4) Think before you text. It only takes seconds of poor judgment for a private thought to hit the airwaves. Once you send a text message, even to a friend, you can’t take it back and you never know who might see it. Prevent embarrassing moments by thinking twice before you text - just as you would before you speak.
5) Avoid paying additional fees. Call your carrier to block third-party applications on your child's handset. Think of it as a V-Chip for the phone. Explain to you children – ringtones, games, apps – they all cost money and can contain explicit content. As children are granted cell phone privileges at such young ages, not all have a true understanding of money and the value of a dollar. If an explanation doesn’t cut it, take control and limit the programs and features your child can and cannot access with their phone.