Friday, February 14, 2014

Kids and Tweens Cybersafety Guide - Cellphones Part 7

If you’re lucky, you have a cell phone. Or maybe you’ll get one in a few years. All cell phones come with
a certain cell phone plan that gives you a certain number of text messages or call minutes a month. Find
out what your plan is and make sure you don’t send more text messages or make more calls than you
are allowed. They can be very expensive. Some plans let you make all the calls you want after a certain
time of night. One company or plan may set 6pm as the time, others may set 9pm. Find out what time
applies to your plan, and if you change cell phone providers or plans check again. Many kids and tweens
have ended up getting into trouble because they thought their free calling time started earlier than it
really did.

Most cell phones don’t have a way to limit calls or text messaging to just your friends. So it’s up to you
to avoid strangers and creeps who call or message you. A good rule is to ignore any text message or call
from “no caller id”, “private callers,” “restricted number” or numbers you don’t recognize. If it’s a friend,
they can always reach you another way.

Keep an eye on your cell phone. While someone may try and steal it, more often others in your school
will try and use it to get you into trouble. They may use it when you aren’t looking and send a mean text
message to your friends while pretending to be you or reprogram your address book.

Ringtones, games, music, videos and special features can cost money, too. They may end up being
charged to your cell phone account and your parents will be surprised with a huge bill at the end of the
month. So ask first before downloading anything on your phone or saying “yes” to any text message ads
you may receive.

If you lose it or it is stolen, make sure you tell your parents right away so they can shut it off and warn
others if personal information or pics are stored on the lost phone. See if you can set password
protection to keep others from programming your phone or using it without your permission.

And be careful with it. It might be fun to shoot pics of your friends when at the beach, but sand and
water can damage it easily. Some cell phone suppliers offer insurance, which can be a big help when you
lose your cell phone or your mom forgot to check your pants pocket before dropping them into the
washing machine.