Safe America Kids

Texting and Cell Phone Safety Tips

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Instant messaging and texting on a cell phone is fun and easy, but can be dangerous if used by cyberbullies, spammers, and identity thieves. Because many cell phones access the internet, there are even more opportunities for hackers to create safety hazards.

Be sure you are smart and safe—

Know when and where to use a cell phone.  Cell phones are a great way to notify the proper adult of an unsafe or dangerous situation, but using a cell phone for talking or texting while driving puts everyone on the road at risk.

Find out if your state has teen driving laws that prohibit teens from using a cell phone while driving. If you must make a call while driving, pull over in a safe, lighted place and call for help. Never text while driving.

Keep your cell phone it in your pocket or your bag. Use it in public only when necessary. Cell phone theft is a common crime and often, the thieves will attack and injure the owner of a phone.

Protect your privacy and only give your cell number to people you know and trust. Never reply to a text message from someone you don’t know and make sure you know how to block others from calling your phone. It can be dangerous to let someone you don't know use your cell phone—be smart.

Be careful meeting someone in person you only met through texting.  Text friends are still strangers and are not necessarily truthful. If you meet face to face, tell someone where you are going and meet during daylight in a public place where there are other people.

Remember your Netiquette and be nice! Be smart about how your text messages are written and check them before sending. Make sure it won’t be taken the wrong way and create unintended feelings. Never provide phone numbers or pictures of others without permission. You never know where the image might end up! Keep your calls short and talk in normal or softer tones when in public. Consider texting instead of calling and set on vibrate of minimize the intensity of your ring.

Teach your parents to text. There may be times when you are in a dangerous situation where cannot speak or in an emergency situation where you are separated from your family. In a disaster, a flood of cell phone calls cannot get through, but texting can be stored and eventually forwarded to family members.  Be sure your parents or responsible adult knows how to text in the event of such an emergency.

Basic safety tips for instant messaging

  • Choose a non-identifiable, non-gender screen name avoid suggestive or inappropriate names
  • Never give out any personal information--that means your real name, telephone or cell phone number[s], mailing address, passwords, banking details etc.
  • Never accept files or downloads from people you don't know or from people you do know, if you weren‘t expecting them. This includes URLs.

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