Smartphones are minicomputers that give our children instant access to the world and if not used correctly they allow the “world” access to our children.

Children use their cellphones to watch videos, play games, download apps, and most importantly send and receive text messages.

Some kids have found free apps that can be used to hide their text messages from their parents.  Although some kids may argue that they have nothing to hide, the following questions would come to my mind:  Why do you need that app, what’s wrong with the regular text plan, what’s really going on?

Some of the most popular apps being used to hide text messages are:  TextPlus, TextFree Unlimited, TextNow, Brightkite, Group Text, Textie Messaging, and TigerText.

For example:  TigerText allows users to set a time limit for a sent text to hang around after it has been read.  After the time limit the message will disappear from both the recipient’s and sender’s phone and any servers.  The message cannot be forwarded or stored anywhere. There is even a “delete on read” setting, which counts down from 60 seconds after the message is opened and erases its text at zero. Poof! – It’s gone.

Practical Tips for Parents:

  1.  Set Cellphone Rules.  When my daughter is in the house her friends are encouraged to call her on our home phone.  She is not allowed to walk around the house with her cellphone glued to her hand.
  2.  Establish a Cellphone Curfew.  Agree on a time when your child will turn off their cellphone.  We set a weekday and weekend phone curfew.
  3. Don’t allow your child to take their cellphone to bed with them. As adults it sometimes hard for us to stop checking emails, reading texts, and answering the phone – set up your child for success.  There is no need for children to have their cellphone in their room while they are sleeping – go ahead and remove the temptation.
  4. Periodically check the apps on your child’s phone.  If you are unfamiliar with an app, ask your child to explain the functionality and why they think they need it.  You may also want to establish rules around downloading apps without approval.
  5. Encourage open communication.  Talk with your child about their cellphone usage, ask questions, get in their business, and most importantly – listen.

About the Author

My name is Marlin Page and I am Technology CEO, Chief Technology Mommy, Excuse Annihilator,  STEM Advocate, Speaker and Self Appointed Sports Diva. I am the CEO of Knowledge Brokers, a fully integrated national search firm specializing in the recruitment of technology and diversity professionals, strategic business consulting and career development.  Under Knowledge Brokers I also serve as “Chief Technology Mommy” on a mission to help keep kids safe online by using over 20+ years in technology, as a Coder, Technology Executive, former CIO and mommy to share real life stories and provide practical tips on Internet Safety.