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Protecting Children Online Part 6 of 6

written by: •edited by: Brian Nelson•updated: 4/20/2009

Discusses children's use of cell phones, text messaging and why this might put them at risk.

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    Kids and Cell Phones

    Cell phones are very practical when you can limit the amount of monthly charges. Prepaid services can help limit the amount of monthly charges teenagers can potentially accumulate since most of them constantly use the phones when they have them. Some parents insist their children have them when away from the home. These parents have strict guidelines for use and are able to contact their child wherever they are. Some parents have the phone configured with a password where only they can change the settings and the teenager or child can place calls only to particular phone numbers.

    Remember that with newer mobile phones, the user can, in real time, talk, send and receive pictures between phone and phone, computer and phone, text messaging and phone, use email, access the internet, record, send and receive video, transfer pictures with sound and text, download files from websites, and, send pictures to websites.

    The factory settings of most cell phones do not make the user anonymous. So, when a call is made or a text message is sent, you are giving the receiver of your call or text message your phone number. Unfortunately, if your child is communicating with someone online and sends them a text message from a cell phone instead of conversing with them in a chatroom or with the text messaging program in the home computer for whatever reason, that person will have the phone number of the cell phone used to send the text message. If the person online happens to be a child predator instead of the honorable person of the age they claim to be while online, the results could be dangerous.

    For example, now that I have a phone number I can go online and use the ‘Reverse Phone Search’ at the White Pages http://www.whitepages.com and potentially find your family name, address, and sometimes, even directions to your house if the family information has not been removed from online phone books. Periodically check the "sent" and "received" call lists for any unusual calls with your child’s cell phone.