In the wake of recent violence and shootings in schools and the media spotlight fanning those sensitive flames, I want to add an often overlooked perspective that draws from both the technology and common sense industries. We’ll leave the gun control debates for knee-jerk citizens and their political representatives and instead focus on some solutions that can be implemented now for your child’s safety.
In these times of scared parents, helpless teachers and naive students, a little common sense goes a long way so let’s start there with a few tips from the NCPC or National Crime Prevention Council.
1. Talk to your children about their day. The sooner you start a regular dialogue with them, the sooner they will be equipped to share questions, fears and concerns with adults to be trusted.
2. Teach children to resolve conflict without fighting. Until children have grown enough emotionally and psychologically, they will not understand consequences for all of their actions. Help them to understand the outcome of their actions without learning the hard way.
3. Map out your child’s walk to school or to the bus stop. Take the walk with them to see the busy intersections, vacant lots or sketchy areas for yourself. Plan alternate routes if necessary and make a plan to get them home safely.
Since we here at BVS design and sell a line of wireless testing tools including cell phone detectors, it only seems appropriate to address the maze of technical problems and solutions with a few more tips.
1. Arm your children with knowledge and means to communicate. This isn’t as simple as sending them off to school with an iPhone and forgetting about them. Most mobile operating systems contain software that speaks directly with GPS in smartphones. This software can be invaluable for a parent unsure of their child’s whereabouts. But be aware that the software and GPS hardware can be disabled for privacy too. So it is vital to teach children that if they are to maintain their own smartphone or tablet, then they must maintain the settings and rules as you, the parent, have established. This is a contract between parent and child that is not only convenient for both, but could save a life.
2. Respect the rules of schools and authority. Some schools do not allow cell phone use during any class in session but all schools allow cell phones to be brought to school. Phones might be a privilege for all but are seen as a right by some. Be sure your child falls in the category of the former. If they do not respect parental rules, they will not respect the school’s rules and will have the phone taken away from them. This can sometimes occur as a result of inappropriate cell phone usage in class or even cheating with a phone. Trust me when I say that we get calls from teachers and school staff everyday looking for products like PocketHound to detect unauthorized cell phone use. Make sure they have the phone on them at all times but are only using it when deemed appropriate by the school.
3. Password protect their phones. For their own safety and your own sanity you need to create a simple but unhackable password for only yourself and your spouse. Even the most forthright children are curious and feel entitles to a degree of privacy. They are expert “hackers” and once they have that password, they can disengage your ability to track them effectively not to the mention run up charges downloading Angry Birds apps. Password protection also protects your children from other potential adult threats both real and cyber-based. Password protection is a lifeline that keeps the parent in control.
Whether it’s legislation or technical safeguards, no one can be 100% safe from violence but we can minimize the odds by using common sense and treating smartphones as hi-tech extensions to our lifelines.