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Do you know what your kids are texting?

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Technology is great at improving convenience. And kids seem to pick up the tricks a lot quicker than adults.

But as a story in Sunday's Sun details, police and parents are increasing concerned that it's often difficult to trace messages and pictures send via cell phones. There's even a legislative push on to require wireless companies to offer parents the ability to retrieve messages from cell phones used by their minor children.

It's scary enough worrying about kids doing inappropriate things on the Internet, but at least computer communications can be tracked. Not so with cell phones, we're learning. Your kids could be taking, sending and receiving improper photos with friends and even strangers, and once they're deleted from the device they could be gone for good.

Sexual predators know this, and police worry that criminals who might meet your kids on the Internet are steering them to cell phones because it's harder to track them down.

How confident are you that your kids aren't doing anything inappropriate with their cell phones or computers? What do you think about the difficulty in tracking cell phone communications? Are you more concerned about tracking criminal conduct, or the potential compromises in user privacy if laws required wireless companies to provide the ability to track transmissions?

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8 Comments

Folks..the reality is that kids make mistakes in life and as parents we need to be there to catch them when they fall. In working with Judy Biggert, I have been trying for the past year to get phone companies to offer this service to parents. They refuse to do this. People who tell me its a violation of their privacy..I KNOW THEY ARE NOT PARENTS OF TEENS IN THIS time of portablity. Especially falling to predators. As far as teaching parents what to look for as you say Michelle, Well I have been doing this for the past three years four times a year. It is advertised every time in talk 204 and 203. Why do parents only pay attention to these classes when they get caught up in "I never thought my kid would..." You know what...NMK Syndrome is in effect. If any of you want to know what that means, come to my Parents Class....

paranoia isn't healthy

It seems like this is the life of the typical 6th-12th grader these days...

TEXTS:
"Um what are you doing"
"Like, nothing"
"OMG did you see the Jonas Brothers on TV"
"Totally"
"Want to get together?"
"Sure, for what?"
"I don't care"
"Me neither"
"Oh, so and so just texted me. Hang on"
"Like, text me later"
"Bye"

The only difference is that the actual texts are full of meaningless acronyms, missspelling, and complete disregard for punctuation.

Where will this lead to? Intelligent young adults who function properly in the real economy? NO.

It will lead to people who may not be dimwits but come across as dimwits. It will not serve them well.

Not a fan.

If you create a 'market' for it, the cell companies will jump on it. If you rely upon it to be legislated, you will regret it forever.

Our solution works for us: Plain Jane 'Pay as you go' phones with minimal minutes kept on them. Each text costs 1/2 minute whether it is inbound or outbound. That will eat them up real fast if they get used. When at home, they are kept in a common area on the chargers, not on the kid. They were taught early on the phones are not 'theirs' and they are a tool, not a toy or source of entertainment/socialization and they are not used as such.

I am a teacher, and I am also very tech-savvy. In my opinion, a majority of today's parents are unable to keep up with the technology their children use on a regular basis. Even some of the most well-behaved, respectful students I have known have had questionable/inappropriate content on webpages such as Myspace.com. More often than not, the parents were either unaware the child even had such a website or did not understand how the website functioned. I feel that there needs to be a technology course available to parents to teach them the skills necessary to keep up with their children for safety reasons.

Texting and picture-messaging tends to follow the same trend. There are a lot of parents who are not familiar with the power of cell phones and assume that their children are using them properly. I feel that middle school children are the most at risk. They have the technology skills necessary to get into some serious trouble, but they do not always have the common sense, life skills, and sense of awareness to keep themselves safe. Parents need to be vigilant.

I think the schools should offer a technology course to parents in the beginning of the year to touch on these issues and make suggestions to parents who may not be aware their children are at risk.

We're with T-mobile. All text and picture communication capabilities, sent or received, are blocked on our childs phone.

it may have takin someone to file a lawsuit to get this option, but it works.

Big Gov - I couldn't agree more!

"Are you more concerned about tracking criminal conduct, or the potential compromises in user privacy if laws required wireless companies to provide the ability to track transmissions?"

Legislation of this type is a slippery slope of epic proportions. If all text messages start getting logged, how long until we start recording every phone call just in case? We already have too many laws in this country thanks to the overreaction after 9/11 and the carte blanche surveillance the Patriot Act allows.

If you're incapable of installing good values in to your children that you have to worry about the things they're text messaging, why do kids even need cell phones? How many of you who read this blog or post here grew up with cell phones? Did you find yourself in constant peril throughout your entire childhood without instant communication?

If your kids MUST have cell phones, get them something simple like a Firefly- http://www.fireflymobile.com/store/firefly/

Wanting to get your kids a cell phone for emergencies is a legitimate concern, but they don't need the ability to text message, take photos, or do anything more than call home.

The last thing we need is more big brother nanny laws spurred by parents' inability to manage their children. Learn to parent and keep the government out of my cell phone.

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This page contains a single entry by Naperville Sun editors published on August 10, 2008 4:00 AM.

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