Family & Parenting Gadgets & Technology Home Share Tweet Now that back to school season kicks off in earnest this week we thought we would provide some back to school safety tips, these may be specially relevant for those of you that have children starting in high school this week. Once you become a parent, you’ll likely have concerns about your child’s well being when he or she is out of your sight. A smartphone can help protect your kids as they return to school and give you peace of mind when your family isn’t together. Back to school safety tips Making Calls When your child has a phone, he or she can use it to keep in touch with you, which will ease your worries regarding his or her safety. Your child can also use the device to make emergency calls to you or the authorities. With a phone, your kids can text or call friends instead of venturing out alone to see if another child can hang out or play. You can also notify your child if you’ll be late picking him or her up from school or a play session with friends. Smartphone Technology If you purchase your child a phone with GPS technology, then you can monitor his or her location at all times. Smartphones can be used to track your child if he or she should become lost or abducted. In fact, you can use this feature for every member of your family. Other technologies include viewing who your children are calling or who is calling them. You can also see where they went during the day. Despite the increased safety and usefulness that smartphones provide, they also pose several hazards. Smartphone Hazards If you have teenagers, then bear in mind that texts and photos may be used to humiliate them, so be sure to talk to your kids about communicating wisely with others. Also, verify that your teenagers know that this is just one form of cyberbullying. Other types include posting unapproved pictures or spreading rumors on social networking sites. Handling Cyberbullying If your child becomes a victim of cyberbullying, save and document the evidence. Record the dates and times that it happened. Also, write down a description of the events. Report cyberbullying to the school principal as well as any other action depending on the level of the type of abuse that’s occurring. For instance, if violent threats are made against your child, you’ll need to notify the police while nonviolent comments involving social media should be forwarded to the school principal and possibly the service provider. If you do need to report any incidents of cyberbulling to your child’s school, be sure to first review the school’s policy regarding cyberbullying. Cyberbullying Prevention Tips To prevent cyberbullying, check your children’s Internet and phone activities. If they have Internet access on their phone, then review the sites they are visiting. You should also learn the meanings behind text abbreviations. Tell them that you will be looking at their online communications if you feel that it is necessary, and consider using software with parental control technology or monitoring programs that let you keep an eye on your children’s Internet activities. Establish the rule that online communications must take place in a common room of your home. If you let your children open a social media account, then check their accounts periodically for peer abuse. Advise your kids to notify you if someone online is bullying them or one of their acquaintances. Don’t threaten to take away their electronic devices when this happens. If your child is bullying another person, remind him or her about the damage these types of actions may cause. Last Thoughts Smartphone technology has its pros and cons. When you allow your child to use a phone, it can protect him or her from dangerous situations while giving you the comfort of knowing where your child is at all times. However, be sure to take steps to prevent cyberbullying as well as other Internet dangers.