DALLAS, June 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Today kicks off National Wireless Safety Week, which marks a good opportunity for parents to talk to their teens about top wireless safety issues, such as texting while driving, sexting and online bullying. In fact, a new national survey commissioned by MetroPCS shows that most parents (82 percent) already think about these issues when it comes to their teens, and around half (58 percent) consider wireless safety to be a major concern.
The online survey was conducted May 21-24, 2010 with 1,000 parents of teens who have a cell phone with a texting plan. Most parents said that texting while driving is their top wireless safety concern, followed by sexting and bullying. Additional findings include the following:
- More than 80 percent of parents say they don't text and drive while their teen is riding in the car, setting a good example for their teens
- The majority of parents (90 percent) are aware of sexting and text-bullying and more than half have discussed these issues with their teens
- 60 percent of parents monitor their teen's cell phone usage, and only 17 percent have found shocking content on the phone
- One-fourth of parents know that their teen has sent or received sexts, yet only 14 percent have found evidence of sexts on their teen's phone, indicating teens may be deleting this content before parents can find it
- Around 70 percent of parents say their teen has not participated in text-bullying, nor have they been a victim of it. Half of them believe that most text bullying takes place after school, when in fact, it can occur any at any time.
To help parents address and prevent wireless safety issues, MetroPCS partnered with Dr. Ruth Peters, a child psychologist who has covered the topic as a parenting contributor to the Today Show.
"More than 70 percent of teens own a cell phone and texting is the primary way they communicate, according to a recent Pew Internet Research study," said Dr. Peters. "While texting is great in that it keeps teens connected to friends and family, it's also become an avenue for around-the-clock harassment and danger if texting and driving is going on. The only way to keep your teen safe is to talk openly about wireless safety and the best ways to handle possible incidents."
Dr. Ruth Peters' Wireless Safety Tips for Parents
- Put it in writing: Give your teen a contract that outlines the rules of having a cell phone, including the hours of usage, acceptable behavior and consequences for not following the terms. Have your teen sign the contract and refer back to it if he or she breaks the rules.
- Monitor your teen's phone: Teens may not like it, but as a parent, it's your right and responsibility to check their cell phone content. Don't feel bad – you need to know if your teen is at risk. If she knows you'll be doing spot checks on her phone, she will be less likely to engage in inappropriate behavior.
- Keep your cool: Seeing shocking language or nude images on your teen's phone is jarring, but don't react impulsively. Instead, have a calm discussion to get at why they're participating in these behaviors. It's worth reminding teens that sexting can have long-term consequences. For example, if images turn up online, potential colleges and even employers could see them.
- Be aware: Watch for signs that your teen is being harassed, such as distracted or nervous behavior, falling grades or attempts to avoid school. Also, remember that texting has made this type of harassment a 24/7 phenomenon, so you may need to limit your teen's cell phone usage or take the phone away until the situation is resolved.
- Stop the flow: Tell teens that if they receive nude images or bullying comments about other peers, they should resist passing them on. Encourage your teens to be the part of the solution instead of perpetuating the problem.
"Remind teens that having a cell phone is a privilege and not a right, so they must follow the rules you set," Peters adds. "At the same time, keep the lines of communication open, so they feel comfortable going to you for help if they're faced with bullying or being pressured to sext."
About MetroPCS Communications, Inc.
Dallas-based MetroPCS Communications, Inc. (NYSE: PCS) is a provider of unlimited wireless communications service for a flat-rate with no annual contract. MetroPCS is the fifth largest facilities-based wireless carrier in the United States based on number of subscribers served and has access to licenses covering a population of approximately 146 million people in many of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States. As of March 31, 2010, MetroPCS had over 7.3 million subscribers. For more information please visit www.metropcs.com.
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