by

Cell phones no longer serve as just a way to communicate; they have evolved into entertainment gadgets. Because these small, hand-held computers seem to do it all, children beg and plead for cell phones. As a parent, you have the difficult decision to make about when your child is ready for his or her own mobile phone. You also need to watch out for dangerous behavior when you do decide to get your child one.

A cell phone can keep you in contact with your children so you can take an active role in ensuring their safety. However, there are risks associated with cell phones, and teenagers are especially prone to these risks. If you suspect they are spending too much time on their phones, you can take steps to ensure that harmless cell phone use doesn t turn into dangerous behavior. If you need more information about what your teenagers are doing on their phones, you might consider installing cell phone parental control software that tracks their activity as well. 

Cell Phone Use While Driving
This is probably one of a parent s the biggest fears, and understandably so. One text can cause a car accident, resulting in serious injury or death. Distracted driving is a factor in nearly 60 percent of moderate to severe teenage car crashes. Because teenagers lack experience and have a desire for social acceptance, an activity like texting while driving may seem like an acceptable risk.

Fourteen states have made it against the law to even speak on your phone without a Bluetooth device while driving, and texting while driving is against the law in forty-six states. The fear of being pulled over and getting an expensive ticket might be a powerful enough tool to help your teenager avoid cell phone use while driving. Explain the fines to your child, as well as the risk of injury.

Tell your teenagers that you have a zero-tolerance policy for any cell phone use while they are driving. It is also very important that you model the behavior you expect. If you are texting while driving, your teenagers will think it is okay for them as well.

Sleep Deprivation
If your teenagers are too attached to their cell phones, they will be using them everywhere, including in bed. Cell phone usage at night can interfere with sleep habits. A recent study shows that teenagers who use their cell phones in bed experience more sleep deprivation. The light emitted from the phone suppresses melatonin, which in turn can upset circadian sleep rhythms, making it harder to fall asleep and harder to wake up.

Teens who spend time on their cell phones before bed are 48 percent more likely to take more than 60 minutes to fall to sleep, while the average person only needs 30 minutes to fall asleep. Teenager cell phone users are also 53 percent more likely to miss out on two hours of sleep.

Sleep deprivation can lead to obesity, depression and anxiety. You can help your teenager by setting limits on mobile phone use. You might want to create certain locations in your house where cell phone use is acceptable, such as the living room or kitchen, and prohibit cell phone use in the bedroom. It might mean you take your kids  phones away at night.

Inappropriate Activity
Teenagers can also fall into negative behavior like sexting with their phones. Your children might be the victims of cyber-bullying, or they might be doing the bullying. In these situations, cell phone parental control software can be particularly useful. The software allows you to track your children s cell phone activity. As a house rule, you may also request all of your teenagers  passwords.

If you suspect your children are spending too much time on their phones, you can take steps to ensure things don t go too far. By setting ground rules and modeling the behavior you would like your teenagers to emulate, you might avoid some of the pitfalls of teenage cell phone use. If you need more information about what your teenagers are doing on their phones, you might consider installing cell phone parental control software that tracks their activity as well.

Sources

NCSL Cell Phone Laws

AAA Teen Distractions and Crashes

Sleep Review: Cell Phone Article

ABC News -Australia: Teen Sleep Article

More Top Stories