Cell Phone Safety for Teens


According to PewInternet, 58% of Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 own a smart phone. These phones are also owned by 49% of those aged 18 to 24 and 44% of those aged 35-44. Those aged 18 to 29 are equal to the national average. C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital published a National Poll on Children’s Health reporting that 27% of preteens aged 9 to 12 and 75% of teens aged 13 to 17 have cell phones. It is also reported that 87% of those preteens and teens are texting as well as 23% having access to the internet through their cell phones. Although having a cell phone has its benefits, the statistics show that preteens and teenagers are facing even more dangers than they do by internet use alone. It is important for you to understand the many dangers faced with cell phone and internet use. The following tips and advice will help you be responsible, safe, and avoid negative life-changing events.

Teen Texting Epidemic

On average, teenagers send and receive 96 text messages per day. This also averages to 2899 sent and received every month. Text messaging has changed the way we communicate and share information with friends and family. The popularity of text messaging has also increased the dangers such as bullying, sexting, predators, and distracted driving. Although these things may not seem like such a big deal now, they could prove to be later. It seems there is always a story in the news about a teenager who has committed suicide due to constantly being bullied.

The compromising photos sent to your “friend” could actually end up being seen by people they weren’t intended for or end up being placed on the internet for the world to see. That “friend” you met online and are now texting, may not be the person you think they are and as it turns out is in fact a sexual predator. That text message you’re reading while you’re driving could be the last message text message you ever read. The headlines related to teen death due to texting are real eye openers and it is extremely important for you to take precaution now to keep yourself and others safe.

Mobile Phone Bullying

Ryan’s Story is a must read. After years of being bullied a 13 year-old boy takes his own life. This is not the first story, nor the last, or its kind and it’s a very sad reality in today’s world. PewInternet reports that 32% of all teenagers using the internet say they have been targets of receiving threatening messages, have had private messages (emails and texts) forwarded without their consent, have had embarrassing photos posted without their knowledge, and have had negative rumors spread about them online.

Cyberbullying has taken form in e-mails, instant messaging, web pages, blogs, chat rooms, and is now moving to text messaging and other technologies. What can you do? You can take immediate action to help prevent bullying. Should a negative message about another person be passed along to you, refuse to pass it to others. Intervene by telling your friends to end their cyberbullying. Do not communicate with cyberbullies and report the issue to an adult you trust. By taking a few simple actions, you can help save lives.

Sexting

In another survey done sexting is a dangerous craze among teenagers. What is sexting? It is when one person takes flirty, nude or somewhat nude photos of themselves and they send the photos to another person with their cell phone or other device used for texting. Overall, 20% of the teenage population has sent pictures or video of themselves to another person. 11% of those teenagers were girls between the ages of 13 and 16. 39% of the teenage population has sent or posted messages of a sexual nature. 15% percent of these teens have admitted that this is done with someone they know online only. Yes, they are sending photos and messages that are sexual in nature to a complete stranger.

Why are teens doing this? For various reasons but 52% of the girls and 18% of the boys have reported they have done so due to peer pressure from the person receiver of the message. What some fail to realize is that sexting can not only ruin a reputation but arrests can be made for the distribution of child pornography, even though the teenager is the one who sent the photos. There is also a high probability that these photos can end up circulating around the internet which can be embarrassing and emotionally damaging to the sender. What can you do? The answer is simple; don’t do it at all. By choosing not to participate in sexting you are saving yourself from what could eventually cause a lot of emotional damage.

Predators

The internet provides a way for people to remain anonymous. It is extremely easy for anyone to use fake information and photos to set up a “secret” social networking page. You should be very aware of the fact that who you are talking to may not be who you think they are. Just because the photo looks legitimate does not mean it is. It is very easy for a sexual predator to find a photo of someone online and pass it off as being them.

One out of every five children has faced solicitation online from sexual predators. One out of every thirty-three has faced sexual solicitations requesting to talk on the phone or even meet in person. Only one out of every four children actually reports this to an adult. What can you do? Social networking sites about socializing and catching up with friends and family as well as meeting new friends, but you should be aware of who you are talking to. First and foremost, keep your pages private and do not add anyone you do not know in real life. Even when your page is private, added friends can have access to any personal information such as addresses and phone numbers you have posted so posting this information is never a good idea. This information should only be given to close friends.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving consists of anything that takes your attention away from the task at hand; driving. This includes drinking, eating, grooming, using cell phones, reading, using navigation systems, watching video, adjusting music, having conversations with passengers, and texting. The distraction that is most alarming is texting. This is because cognitive, manual, and visual attention is required from the person driving. When you text while you’re driving, your total attention is focused elsewhere putting you at risk for causing or being involved in a serious accident.

According to the NHTSA there were almost 450,000 people injured and almost 5,500 people killed in driver distraction related accidents in 2009. It is also reported that 16% of the teenage drivers who were involved in fatal vehicle accidents were distracted. The VTTI reports that text messaging creates an accident risk that is 23 times more than non-distracted driving. So what can you do? The most effective preventive measure is to not use a cell phone when you are behind the wheel. Texting while driving should be eliminated all together but if you must answer a ringing phone, do so using a Blue Tooth or hands-free device.

Helpful Tips for Teens

The following ten tips will help keep you safe on the internet and on the road:

On the internet

  • Keep social networking pages private.
  • Avoid adding “friends” you do not personally know.
  • Do not provide too much personal information such as addresses, phone numbers, and full birth dates.
  • No matter how pressured you feel, do not send nude photos to anyone. It’s not worth the risk and emotional damage.
  • Should you witness any act of cyberbulling via any method, report it immediately and do not participate in cyberbullying of any kind.

On the road

  • Do not send or read a text message while driving.
  • Do not talk on a cell phone while driving. If you must answer the phone, call someone, or read or reply to a text message, pull off safely on the side of the road first.
  • If there are passengers in the car, keep conversation to a minimum. You can also request that they change the radio station so you can stay focused on the road.
  • If you’re hungry, stop somewhere to eat rather than trying to multitask behind the wheel.
  • If you’re the passenger in the vehicle of someone participating in any of the listed distractions, request that they wait until the vehicle is parked. Should they not be concerned with these dangers and the safety of the passenger or themselves, it is best to not ride in the vehicle with them.

The following resources will provide more statistics as well as tips and advice on how you can stay safe: