Frequent Questions and Concerns

What do I need to know about kids and cell phones?

As with all new technologies, there are benefits to cell phones. Parents like the idea that their kids can get in touch with them in an emergency or whenever they’re not in sight. Kids naturally love to be able text friends and keep up with everyone and everything. With rapidly changing cell phone technology, kids are able to access TV, videos, music, and the internet through their cell phones. We know that too much screen time isn’t good for children, and this access only increases the number of possible hours kids can be glued to screens instead of paying attention to school, family, or friends.

Because of these small, personal, hand-held devices, it’s also harder to monitor the shows and videos kids watch and what they’re listening to. That’s why it’s important to keep in touch with your kids and find out what they’re watching and listening to.

Do cell phones encourage cheating?

According to a recent survey by Common Sense Media, more than one out of three teenagers with a cell phone admits to cheating at least once with it.1 Kids are not only using cell phones to cheat—they’re also using the internet. Many kids search online to find a quiz answer or plagiarize from others’ papers. What’s disturbing is that one out of four teenagers say that accessing notes they stored on a cell phone during a test isn’t cheating.2

How closely should I watch what my child does online and in text messages?

Despite the benefits, cell phones are also posing new challenges for parents: high cell phone bills, sexting incidents, texting while driving, and more. Some kids run up enormous bills, disturb classes with ringing phones, and use texting to bully other kids. As more forms of media continue to converge in cell phones, perhaps the greatest challenge will be monitoring and keeping track of our kids’ media use. Small, hand-held screens make it harder to watch what your kids watch. That’s why it’s important to stay ahead of the trends and keep talking with your kids about cell phone use.

You may also consider installing parental controls on your child’s phone. Learn more about successfully using parental controls from Dr. David Walsh and his daughter, Erin Walsh.

1. Common Sense Media, “Thirty-Five Percent of Teens Admit to Using Cell Phones to Cheat,” news release, June 18, 2009.

2. Ibid.