cell phones

Post image for 10 Tips & Some Security & Privacy Tools for Setting Up Your Child’s First Smartphone

As part of The Digital Joneses study that I’m working on with other bloggers and with Trend Micro, one of our challenges is “Staying Connected on the Go.” The study itself is one of online protection, privacy and security, using a variety of tools and software as well as tips and best practices provided by Trend Micro. This is the 4th challenge that we are undertaking and you can see some of my other articles from the challenges here.

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This current challenge outlined some tasks that we needed to do during a 24-hour period but the over-arching theme was to essentially detach from your computer, and do everything that you would normally do on your computer but on a smartphone. The funny thing is, I do this type of challenge each and every day, most typically, on the weekend. Some of the tasks we were asked to do included:

  • Posting pictures to Facebook and set the privacy so that only “Friends” could see them
  • Do some online banking
  • Catch up on emails
  • Watch YouTube videos
  • Share photos with close friends and family
  • Make an online purchase

As you can see, many of these items involve security or privacy. This is something that I don’t take lightly and neither should you. So, using the themes of safety, security and privacy, I elected to slightly modify the challenge to hopefully make it helpful to parents who are thinking about giving their child a smartphone.

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Post image for We’re NOT Shaving with a Motorola DROID RAZR, We’re Giving One Away! – “Mother’s Day Special” – Cast of Dads Podcast

While Mother’s Day has come and gone, and yes, all of the Cast of Dads were able to plan ahead to treat the moms (and wives) of our lives to their special day, we do have a “Mother’s Day Special” after the day went by. And, this episode marks a great milestone for the Cast of Dads – we have a sponsor (Motorola and their new Android RAZR). Let me cut to the chase here – we are GIVING ONE AWAY! All that you have to do is listen to this podcast and then head on over to this episode of the Cast of Dads website to enter. We put the RAZR to the test during Mother’s Day and talked all about it, as well as other Mother’s Day festivities. Alas, we couldn’t use the RAZR for shaving but heck, that could be coming someday! A true “dad’s smartphone!”

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We are also calling this a special episode because not all of the Cast of Dads were present. Max was out sailing with his son – what a cool and special occasion! But we covered a lot of other really fun topics – can you say trains, home movies, graduations, getting back to nature and scuba diving? We never know what direction the podcast will go, and that’s what makes it fun!

And thanks again to Motorola for sponsoring this episode. In fact, I’m using the Wifi tethering option to write this post!

The Topics

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I have always been a big proponent against the use of Social Media by children, especially when they are in elementary school. Interacting with Social Media is not something you want your kids doing at an early age, at least not until they can really understand its implications. However, as they grow older and more independent, loosening up the reigns a bit may not be that bad of a thing.

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More and more children are getting cell phones at an earlier and earlier age. This is a good thing in many ways in that it’s easy for them to call if they have an emergency, to text you if they need to be picked up, or simply just free up the home phone (hope you have a good calling plan with lots of minutes!) Many elementary schools simply don’t allow cell phones on campus, which I think is good because it is a distraction and the negatives definitely outweigh the positives.

That being said, as your children move on up the ladder, they will need to have ways to communicate with you and their friends in timely and efficient ways. Having a cell phone can not only help a bit with their independence, it can also be a great virtual assistant when it comes to extending your leash on them just a bit further (and virtually).

My oldest daughter who is 11 years old, for example, does have a cell phone. She texts with her friends and uses it to communicate with us. She also feels “special” and a bit more “adult” by having one. (I’m still trying to figure out if this is a good thing or not.) However, as she moves to 6th grade, it will be important for her to fit in with the crowd and be able to “chat” within the channels of her social peers. While we restrict her phone to calls and SMS texts only, I know that this will probably change in the future as more of her friends become more “socially active” online. Remember though, many of the main social sites require you to be 13 years or older to participate.

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I heard an interesting statistic today that the smartphone sales accounted for only about 20% of all of the cell phones sold this past quarter. I was actually a bit surprised with that number. I would have thought that the percentage would have been a lot higher.

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Of course, I live in a technology bubble. Not only do my various professional and personal work responsibilities require me to be tapped into the latest and greatest Enterprise and Consumer grades of tech, I also sort of live and breathe it in my day-to-day life. So with gadgets orbiting my mind on a regular basis, my vision of reality can sometimes get obscured. Not everybody has or can have the latest in tech.

So about 80% of the cell phone market just have plain old cell phones. I’m curious about those individuals or families and whether they have computers and if they do, do they participate in social media at all? My mother, for example, has a “dumb phone” but does have a Facebook account. My father and stepmom, on the other hand, both have iPhones but don’t participate in social media whatsoever. My oldest daughter has a smartphone that my wife and I have “dumbed down” by stripping out all of the data aspects of the phone with the exception of texting, and she is too young to participate in Social Media (even though she has friends who are on Facebook – remember, if you are 13 or younger, technically you aren’t allowed on Facebook or other social media sites for that matter – my thoughts on texting and children are here). So there are probably a lot of similar scenarios out there.

This month’s assignment for the Lose the Laptop Challenge is about Social Media. So when I write about this topic, I start to really question, who is the audience that I’m writing to? If you are reading is post, there is a good chance that you saw my or someone else’s tweet about it or you came from a link within Facebook or FriendFeed. To me, this means that you are already hooked into Social Media in some way or another. But what about those people who are not?

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Cell Phones, Tweens, Texting & Conversations – Child & Family Cellular Safety Thoughts

February 22, 2010

If you are a parent of a tween (a pre-teenager), you have probably hit the stage of your child wanting a cell phone. My wife and I broke down (or were gradually worn down) about a year ago with our oldest and she got hers when she was about 10. She wasn’t (and still isn’t) […]

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Cast of Dads: Podcast #2 – “Vomiting, Vaccines, Vacations & More”

December 18, 2009

A bit delayed, heck, it is the holidays and we have all been pretty busy. But our Cast of Dads Podcast #2, which I have titled “Vomiting, Vaccines, Vacation & More” is now live! Obviously it goes beyond those three “V’s” mentioned. The Cast of Dads is a new podcast put on by 5 Daddy Bloggers. […]

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