Cell phone addiction is a real thing, and I can prove it to you! Just take a ride on any freeway. Within 10 minutes you’ll find 3 to 5 people using their cell phones while driving ON THE FREEWAY. Yesterday, I spotted a motorcyclist in the fast lane, driving with one hand, while messing with his phone. Wow! This happens every single day on every single road you travel. In my book, that adds up to cell phone ADDICTION.
These people are so addicted to their cell phones, that they can’t put them down long enough to even DRIVE. It’s so scary and frustrating! The thing is – these are all ADULTS. They know perfectly well that it’s against the law in every state (maybe not hands-free, but definitely hands-on is illegal), and they could get a huge fine for it. They’re also well aware of the physical damage or even death if they had an accident. They are also aware of the financial realities of car insurance, car payments, fines, deductibles, etc.
But many of them STILL DO IT – constantly! Maybe you do to, or know someone who does. Crazy dangerous!
These are adults with fully developed brains and theoretically, adult-level decision making abilities. But they aren’t able to control themselves even with enormous consequences and penalties like these. Now you are handing this same addictive device to your teen or pre-teen. Or even your elementary school or preschool aged kid. They really stand about ZERO chance of avoiding the trap of cell phone addiction.
Keep in mind that your child’s brain is not yet fully developed. Even if they are a terrific and super smart kid, their brain just hasn’t caught up yet! They’d have to be able to resist the temptations of Snapchat, Instagram, texts from their friends, YouTube, games, fun apps, and every other darn thing that was specifically created to ensnare them. No teen has that level of maturity – most adults don’t either! Even if you set strict kid rules for cell phones, they aren’t like to keep to them consistently.
Kids and Cell Phone Addiction
Now, I’m not saying that cell phones are BAD or that kids shouldn’t have them. As a blogger, I’m probably as addicted to my device as anyone. And it’s a fact that a kid without a cell phone is pretty likely to be shunned by his or her peers. But you wouldn’t allow your teen or preteen to go barreling down the freeway without the proper training and safeguards in place, would you? Let’s hope not.
But Driver’s Ed has been in place for decades. There is no Cell Phone Ed that I know of. Interesting fact: During the Pyongchang Olympics they mentioned there are video game and rehab for cell phone addiction clinics opening up all over Asia. They even have a “Cindrella law” – no gaming or cell phone after midnight for minors.
Other countries are starting to recognize what a hazard this is and put some safeguards around it. Apparently in the US – we haven’t gotten that message yet. At least, I’ve never heard of a technology addiction program – have you? No one I’ve asked has ever heard of one.
Why You Need an App Like WebSafety
Part of the problem is that there aren’t a lot of good tools or guidance for parents to set and enforce rules around their kid’s cell phone use. The WebSafety app was designed to solve that problem for you – quickly and easily. You simply download the app onto your phone and your child’s devices. You can set it up for multiple children and multiple devices such a tablets, phones and iPods. It is compatible with both Android and iOS operating systems. Once you have it set up (and it does have a free 30-day trial period), you can monitor the following:
View all texts both incoming and outgoing and get real-time alerts for any flagged words. I’m sure you can guess what they are, but it would alert you if your child was being cyber-bullied, or was bullying someone, was talking about sex (or sending naughty photos – yikes!), or if they were talking about self-harm or other topics of major concern.
View social media activity on Facebook and Instagram including any photos posted. It does not look like they cover SnapChat yet, but you can view their apps to alert you if they use platforms that are not monitored.
You can view their web browser history, with an immediate alert for any objectionable sites listed in the WebSafety database.
One of their most powerful features is the ability to set time of day alerts, so you can block the device during school hours, define bedtime hours, homework time, or instantly block usage as needed throughout the day. That feature is pure GOLD.
You can also track your child’s location while the phone is on them and turned on (and when isn’t it??). You can set normal alerts for to and from school for instance, but set off-limits alerts for a boyfriend or girlfriend’s house, or get an alert for a child leaving the school grounds unexpectedly. I think we’re probably all glad OUR parent’s didn’t have that ability. I ditched a class or two in my day, but these days it’s a little more dangerous.
Here is a great video that explains all about the WebSafety App. Check out the Lord of the Rings reference about halfway through – cracked me up!
This app has some powerful tools. They need to be used wisely to monitor and guide your children without damaging the relationship. Note that these are ALERTS, but they aren’t blocking the teens from doing inappropriate things. I know, I’ve seen a few text messages and comments that were a little shocking to my old lady sensibilities, but you need to pick your battles and set up some good conversations about intelligent and responsible use of devices. They’ll be on their own soon enough and you don’t want them to be one of the folks texting in the fast lane!
Do yourself a favor and visit the WebSafety website to learn more about their features. Check out the 30 day free trial. It’s $5.99/month or $59.99 per year. That’s a small price to keep your teens safe and teach them good habits regarding their devices and their online conversations.
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Disconnected parenting book from Amazon
Glow Kids book from Amazon