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Kids with cell phone Kids with a cell phone. (Photo: istockphoto.com)

Cell Phone Safety

Helpful tips for kid communications

By Jennifer Dignan | May 7 , 2009

Cell phones are useful tools, and they're lots of fun too. But cell phones do have risks. If you have a cell phone, it is important to understand these risks, and learn how to enjoy your cell phone safely.

Unwanted Communications


Texting can be a wonderful way to keep in touch with your friends. But bullies can send text messages too. They may send texts directly to their victims, or they may send texts about their victim to other kids.

If you receive a rude, mean, or threatening text, do not reply or forward it. This will only encourage the cyberbully—and could lead to your becoming a cyberbully yourself. Instead, save the text and show it to a parent or other trusted adult.

The same is true if you receive a call, text, or picture from someone you don't know. Scammers, spammers, and predators are finding their way onto phones. Do not reply to their messages, even to tell them to go away. And of course, NEVER agree to meet anyone in person whom you have met through your phone, no matter who they say they are.

Think Before You Send

Sending pictures from a cell phone is fast, easy, and fun. But before you do it, think. Pictures can be forwarded at lightning speed—from one phone to another, or from a phone to a computer. Your picture could end up on a social networking Web site, like MySpace or Facebook, or anywhere else on the Internet.

Send pictures to no one but trusted friends or relatives. And even then, make sure you send only pictures that you wouldn't mind other people seeing.

Walking and Talking

A recent study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that children who talk on cell phones while crossing the street are at a higher risk for injury or death. What can you do? Simple. End your conversation before you cross the street.

Your Parents Can Help

You don't have to take care of cell phone safety on your own. Your parents can help.

One option is a phone or monitoring service that provides parental controls. Parental controls let your parents control how and when you use your cell phone, and who is able to contact you. (You and your parents can determine the rules together.) With parental controls, you won't have to worry about receiving unwanted calls or texts—or the temptation to text during science class!

No matter what, keep your parents in the loop. Let them know who your friends are, and when and where you use your phone. Again, if you receive any unusual, upsetting, or unwanted calls, texts, or pictures, tell your parents immediately.

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK

Read today’s story and answer the following question.

blog it Do you have a cell phone? How old were you when you got it? If you don't have one, do you want one? Have you ever received an unwanted call, text, or picture on your cell phone? What did you do?

Tell us what you think on the Scholastic News Online Blog!

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