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Lessons and stories from the front lines of fighting identity theft.


Selfies, Texting and Tweets: Teaching Responsibility with Smartphones

Aug 26


It’s not uncommon for kids, pre-teen and even much younger, to be armed with a smartphone, tablet or other electronic device. The idea of giving your child a smartphone can be unnerving, but there are benefits to both parents and children. Smartphones help parents stay connected to their kids, can provide educational enrichment, and allow kids to communicate with others, including their friends. Parents need to ensure their children are aware of the dangers that can come with having a smartphone, to protect both their safety and the privacy of their communications and information.

Smartphones provide the power of a computer in the palm of your hand, allowing children quick and easy access to the World Wide Web and all the content within it. Children may be able to access inappropriate material and can become victims of identity theft and targets of bullying and predators through social media and apps. Parents who decide to give their children electronic devices should set ground rules for proper usage to help avoid illegal activity, abuse or other harm.

When setting parameters for cell phone use with your child, some topics of discussion should include:

  • Location Identifier: When kids use a geo-location app to tell the world where they are at any given moment, they open themselves up to an invasion of their privacy, as well as the potential for predators and other scammers to find them. Teach your kids to use these locator apps sparingly and enable parental controls where available.
  • Text, Photos and Videos: These types of communications are fun, but they can also be harmful. Remind your children that anything they text or photograph can be easily copied and spread without their knowledge after it leaves their hands. Once they press send, it is out of their control from that point forward.
  • Social Media: Your kids should only accept “friends” they already know. Avoid giving out private and location-based information on these networks. They should feel comfortable telling you about any awkward or inappropriate encounters.

While you don’t have to become a prison guard, it’s a good idea to set expectations and consequences, and stick to them. Many kids break the rules now and then, but when it comes to smartphone safety and privacy protection, let them know there are no exceptions. Break a rule; lose your privileges.

This article is provided for general guidance and information. It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal, financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal or financial issues involved with credit decisions.

Published by permission from, Inc., an Experian company. © 2014, Inc. All rights reserved.