News & Events

Date and Time of Release: 17 February 2011

Subject: Public Information
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BE SMART WITH YOUR CHILD’S CELL PHONE

Like the internet, cell phones bring with them a host of potential dangers. On one hand, they are a wonderful tool for parents to keep in touch with their children, not only on a daily basis, but in case of an emergency. On the other hand, today’s cell phones can do almost anything a PC can do, making kids vulnerable to unsafe situations. The Sonora Police Department would like to point out some important facts to keep in mind.

Test Messaging
Most of us are aware of the popularity of texting with kids today. Because of this, kids need to be reminded that the same rules apply about talking to strangers in person, also apply online. Children need to be careful about who they text and what they say.

Social Networking
Some cell phones allow kids to access social networking sites, like MySpace. Again, the same rules that apply to the internet apply to cell phones. Kids need to know who they are talking to and what information they are revealing. Parents need to impress upon their children not to reveal personal information, such as their address.

Bulling
Cyber-Bulling, while rampant on the internet, has now gone mobile. Cyber-Bullies are turning to texting technology to harass others. Make sure your child knows that this too is a crime and should always be reported to a parent, teacher or law enforcement.

GPS Capability
Many cell phones today have GPS technology installed. Unfortunately, this same technology that allows parents to find their children can also be used by predators. Parents should check their child’s setting to ensure safety features are set to their satisfaction.

Cameras/Videos
Most cell phones in use today have cameras; some even have video-cams. There is both a personal-reputation and safety aspect to this. Talk with your kids about never letting other people photograph or film them in embarrassing or inappropriate situations and vice versa. They need to understand their own and other’s privacy rights when it comes to sharing photos and videos via cell phones.

Parental Controls
Safety controls are not as numerous for cell phones, but the industry does offer helpful options for parents. Many service providers offer security features that allow parents to set boundaries, control contacts, restrict numbers and calling times, restrict texting and filter online content. Check with your provider to see what services they may offer.

Sexting
Kids are engaging in “Sexting,” which is an alarming and growing trend that can lead to very serious consequences. Pre-teens and teenagers are text messaging explicit photos of themselves to their friends. Sexting involves taking nude or semi-nude photos and sending them via their cell phone. It also involves sending sexually explicit messages.
These pictures and messages are being sent without giving thought to the dangers. Beyond the potential legal ramifications (possible child pornography) kids need to realize once a photo exists in cyberspace, it is there forever. A photo taken today as a prank can appear on the internet years from now and may even be used as a source of blackmail.
Child safety experts estimate one of every five teens has electronically sent or posted inappropriate photos or videos of themselves. Some have been as young as elementary school age.
If you haven’t talked to your kids about this, do so today. Parents and guardians are the first line of defense when it comes to educating children about the hidden dangers of impulsive or bad decisions, such as Sexting.

Conclusion
Cell phone technology presents a wide range of helpful applications that children find attractive, such as instant messaging, downloading music and movies, interactive games and access to social networking sites. However, cell phones pose a variety of potential dangers that can place children in unsafe and harmful situations. It is vital that parents and guardians take steps to educate themselves about how their children are using their cell phones.

The Sonora Police Department hopes you found this information to be beneficial. Please give us a call at 532-8141 you should have any questions regarding this topic.