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Is Your Child Ready for a Cell Phone?

Is Your Child Ready for a Cell Phone?

Parents often wonder what the right age is for their child to have a cell phone, but the truth is, every child is different. It depends on the child’s maturity, ability to be responsible, and the family’s communication needs.

As you consider what works best for your family, use the following tips to help set ground rules and parental controls, and to decipher the delicate balance between monitoring your child’s cell phone use and respecting their privacy.

How to set ground rules

Like driving a car for the first time, most kids are excited to get their first cell phone. And when learning to drive, kids must go through driver’s education and have limitations placed on them once they can drive on their own.

The same rings true for cell phones. As adults, we know the distractions our phones can pose. Before you give your child a phone, discuss the ground rules you expect them to follow. Start small and allow more freedom with earned responsibility.

Cell phone rules and expectations can include:

  • When the cell phone cannot be used, like at dinner time, during homework hours, or at bedtime.
  • Never texting while walking—this can be anywhere, including parking lots, the mall, sidewalks, or even at home. This can distract your child and can be dangerous if they aren’t paying attention to their surroundings.
  • Never texting while driving and following the state laws when it comes to cell phone and hands-free use in the car.
  • Only downloading approved apps.
  • Designating specific times to use social media apps such as Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Kik, WhatsApp, TikTok, etc.
  • Keeping personal information, such as their school name, hometown, phone number, birth date, and address, off social media.
  • The understanding that the phone is the property of the parents and can be rescinded at any time for misuse.
  • A clear definition of who is responsible for replacing the phone if it’s lost.

As you establish ground rules, consider creating a cell phone agreement for your child to sign, and give them a copy to keep and comply with. The contract can include the estimated cost of the cell phone, whether or not you will be monitoring the phone and its usage, and a statement that phone privileges can be discontinued at any time for misuse. Warning your child of the consequences of misusing their phone ahead of time makes it easier to take their phone away, if needed.

What type of phone to get for your child

Cell phones are expensive, and your child probably doesn’t need the newest model with all the bells and whistles. The best first phone for a child is either a used one (several generations old) or a basic phone with limited functions.

If your child proves they are responsible by taking good care of their phone and responding to your texts and calls, you can consider upgrading them to a better phone, if needed.

How to use parental controls

Self-control is not necessarily a strong suit in the still-developing mind of a child, and setting parental controls on their phone can help protect them.

Parental controls can include restrictions on downloading apps, preventing explicit content, restricting Web searches, and only allowing certain games. Start off by restricting as much as you feel you need to and eventually allow more options with proven responsibility.

Monitoring with privacy

There’s an ongoing debate about the balance of parental monitoring and a child’s privacy, and it’s up to each parent to decide on an individual basis. Just as a parent helps their child learn to ride a bike or drive a car, they can also help their child learn how to safely use their cell phone.

Kids rarely make phone calls anymore — instead, they use messaging for most of their conversations. Looking over social media interactions, app use, and texts can offer insight into bullying, disparaging comments, signs of suicide from friends, or unsolicited sexting from friends or strangers. Does your child know how to handle these situations? Will your child tell you about it?

Keep in mind that many kids don’t use text messaging like their parents do. They prefer Snapchat or Instagram messaging, and now both social media apps make messages disappear after a certain amount of time. Staying up-to-date on what apps your child is using and how they can be used for messaging can help keep you informed about your child’s online activity.

Most cell phone carriers offer packages to help parents with monitoring, and a number of parental monitoring apps are also available with varying degrees of tracking. These apps can alert you when specific words are used in messages your child sends or receives and offer more privacy by allowing you to focus on certain messages rather than every communication.

Cell phones can be helpful for families when used correctly. Taking the time to set up ground rules can help teach your child responsibility and will offer peace of mind as you navigate the treacherous waters that can come with your child’s first phone.

About the Author

Lori Cunningham a family tech advocate and contributing writer for Xfinity Mobile. She is a mom to two creative children ages 13 and 15, and always looking to find new ways technology can help families with their scheduled lives.

Parents often wonder what the right age is for their child to have a cell phone, but the truth is, every child is different. It depends on the child’s maturity, ability to be responsible, and the family’s communication needs.

As you consider what works best for your family, use the following tips to help set ground rules and parental controls, and to decipher the delicate balance between monitoring your child’s cell phone use and respecting their privacy.

How to set ground rules

Like driving a car for the first time, most kids are excited to get their first cell phone. And when learning to drive, kids must go through driver’s education and have limitations placed on them once they can drive on their own.

The same rings true for cell phones. As adults, we know the distractions our phones can pose. Before you give your child a phone, discuss the ground rules you expect them to follow. Start small and allow more freedom with earned responsibility.

Cell phone rules and expectations can include:

  • When the cell phone cannot be used, like at dinner time, during homework hours, or at bedtime.
  • Never texting while walking—this can be anywhere, including parking lots, the mall, sidewalks, or even at home. This can distract your child and can be dangerous if they aren’t paying attention to their surroundings.
  • Never texting while driving and following the state laws when it comes to cell phone and hands-free use in the car.
  • Only downloading approved apps.
  • Designating specific times to use social media apps such as Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Kik, WhatsApp, TikTok, etc.
  • Keeping personal information, such as their school name, hometown, phone number, birth date, and address, off social media.
  • The understanding that the phone is the property of the parents and can be rescinded at any time for misuse.
  • A clear definition of who is responsible for replacing the phone if it’s lost.

As you establish ground rules, consider creating a cell phone agreement for your child to sign, and give them a copy to keep and comply with. The contract can include the estimated cost of the cell phone, whether or not you will be monitoring the phone and its usage, and a statement that phone privileges can be discontinued at any time for misuse. Warning your child of the consequences of misusing their phone ahead of time makes it easier to take their phone away, if needed.

What type of phone to get for your child

Cell phones are expensive, and your child probably doesn’t need the newest model with all the bells and whistles. The best first phone for a child is either a used one (several generations old) or a basic phone with limited functions.

If your child proves they are responsible by taking good care of their phone and responding to your texts and calls, you can consider upgrading them to a better phone, if needed.

How to use parental controls

Self-control is not necessarily a strong suit in the still-developing mind of a child, and setting parental controls on their phone can help protect them.

Parental controls can include restrictions on downloading apps, preventing explicit content, restricting Web searches, and only allowing certain games. Start off by restricting as much as you feel you need to and eventually allow more options with proven responsibility.

Monitoring with privacy

There’s an ongoing debate about the balance of parental monitoring and a child’s privacy, and it’s up to each parent to decide on an individual basis. Just as a parent helps their child learn to ride a bike or drive a car, they can also help their child learn how to safely use their cell phone.

Kids rarely make phone calls anymore — instead, they use messaging for most of their conversations. Looking over social media interactions, app use, and texts can offer insight into bullying, disparaging comments, signs of suicide from friends, or unsolicited sexting from friends or strangers. Does your child know how to handle these situations? Will your child tell you about it?

Keep in mind that many kids don’t use text messaging like their parents do. They prefer Snapchat or Instagram messaging, and now both social media apps make messages disappear after a certain amount of time. Staying up-to-date on what apps your child is using and how they can be used for messaging can help keep you informed about your child’s online activity.

Most cell phone carriers offer packages to help parents with monitoring, and a number of parental monitoring apps are also available with varying degrees of tracking. These apps can alert you when specific words are used in messages your child sends or receives and offer more privacy by allowing you to focus on certain messages rather than every communication.

Cell phones can be helpful for families when used correctly. Taking the time to set up ground rules can help teach your child responsibility and will offer peace of mind as you navigate the treacherous waters that can come with your child’s first phone.

About the Author

Lori Cunningham a family tech advocate and contributing writer for Xfinity Mobile. She is a mom to two creative children ages 13 and 15, and always looking to find new ways technology can help families with their scheduled lives.

The Dark and Scary Side – of SNEEZING

Kids History

Sneezing. We all do it. It seems so simple. You get an itch in your nose, a tickle in your head and then: HAH-CHEW! You don’t decide to sneeze. It just happens. A sneeze can be funny, but it can also be dangerous. In fact, sneezing has a dark and frightening history.

People have sneezed since the beginning of time. And all over the world people have responded to a sneeze by wishing the sneezer good health.

In ancient Rome people would say “Jupiter preserve you.” Ancient Greeks would say “good health to you.” Even though these people didn’t know about germs, they knew that sneezing was a bad sign.

Some thought that the soul left the body when a person sneezed. Wishing good health helped keep the devil away from that soul. Other people thought that sneezing was how a person got rid of a demon. A blessing was to help keep the devil from re-entering the person’s body.

The phrase, “God bless you” is believed to come from Pope Gregory The Great during the sixth century. This was when a deadly bubonic plague ran wild through Europe. The blessing was uttered after a sneeze in the hope of preventing the spread of the illness. Of course, it didn’t.

Probably the most familiar response to sneezing is: gesundheit. This is a German word that means “health.” In Punjabi, people say “Glorious Lord.” Latvians say, “To your health.” Albanians simply say, “Health.” While some cultures have different ways to answer the blessing, the usual thing to say back is: “Thank you.”

Sneezing is also thought to have inspired a famous old children’s rhythm: Ring around the Rosie. In the 1800s, people thought that the poem was a playful description of the plague. The words, “A-shew-A-shew we all fall down” was thought to describe sneezing then getting sick and falling.

History experts don’t think that the nursery rhythm was written because of the plague, but people still believe the story.

Of course, now we know that sneezing is one way our bodies get rid of germs. Years ago, people were told to sneeze into handkerchiefs. This wasn’t a good idea, because the germs still lived in the cloth.

Now people are told to use tissues then throw the tissues away and wash their hands. If you sneeze and do not have a tissue, doctors say that you should to sneeze into the elbow of your sleeve.

We know that sneezing isn’t caused by demons, but we do know that germs are dangerous. You can still say “God bless you,” but to be safe, use a tissue and wash your

Sneezing. We all do it. It seems so simple. You get an itch in your nose, a tickle in your head and then: HAH-CHEW! You don’t decide to sneeze. It just happens. A sneeze can be funny, but it can also be dangerous. In fact, sneezing has a dark and frightening history.

People have sneezed since the beginning of time. And all over the world people have responded to a sneeze by wishing the sneezer good health.

In ancient Rome people would say “Jupiter preserve you.” Ancient Greeks would say “good health to you.” Even though these people didn’t know about germs, they knew that sneezing was a bad sign.

Some thought that the soul left the body when a person sneezed. Wishing good health helped keep the devil away from that soul. Other people thought that sneezing was how a person got rid of a demon. A blessing was to help keep the devil from re-entering the person’s body.

The phrase, “God bless you” is believed to come from Pope Gregory The Great during the sixth century. This was when a deadly bubonic plague ran wild through Europe. The blessing was uttered after a sneeze in the hope of preventing the spread of the illness. Of course, it didn’t.

Probably the most familiar response to sneezing is: gesundheit. This is a German word that means “health.” In Punjabi, people say “Glorious Lord.” Latvians say, “To your health.” Albanians simply say, “Health.” While some cultures have different ways to answer the blessing, the usual thing to say back is: “Thank you.”

Sneezing is also thought to have inspired a famous old children’s rhythm: Ring around the Rosie. In the 1800s, people thought that the poem was a playful description of the plague. The words, “A-shew-A-shew we all fall down” was thought to describe sneezing then getting sick and falling.

History experts don’t think that the nursery rhythm was written because of the plague, but people still believe the story.

Of course, now we know that sneezing is one way our bodies get rid of germs. Years ago, people were told to sneeze into handkerchiefs. This wasn’t a good idea, because the germs still lived in the cloth.

Now people are told to use tissues then throw the tissues away and wash their hands. If you sneeze and do not have a tissue, doctors say that you should to sneeze into the elbow of your sleeve.

We know that sneezing isn’t caused by demons, but we do know that germs are dangerous. You can still say “God bless you,” but to be safe, use a tissue and wash your

What Would the ‘Future You’ Post?

future social media posts for kids safety

Adults tell you all the time: “Be careful what you post on social media! The Internet is forever!” Teachers say: “When you apply for college, the school might reject you because of all those pictures and mean posts.”

You hear over and over: “People who hire employees will read your history and you might not get the job you want.” You smile, nod, then roll your eyes. Who cares about what happens in five, ten or twenty years?

Someone just made a post that makes you angry—you feel that you must post some angry comment back. You take a picture of yourself drawing a rude image on a neighbor’s fence and snicker as you upload it to your page.

Stop. Take your fingers off your phone or keyboard. What you are told is true. The Internet saves everything you do today. People can see all your posts five, ten and even twenty years from now. People have lost jobs for postings made years before.

If you want to be, say, the boss of a company or a famous dancer or a doctor or mayor of a city, think about that when you post online. A firefighter’s job is to face danger and save lives—would someone like that make mean posts to a little kid?

Would a great engineer type hurtful words to a person who is different from him or her?  Maybe you won’t become a great engineer if you can’t get into college because of mean comments posted when you were a kid.

Think about what you want to be. Imagine reaching your goals. You could dream of being an athlete, a pop star, a carpenter, a zoologist—whatever it is, think about how The Future You would act online. What would a nurse post when a person talks about being in pain?

What would a great world leader do when he or she sees someone being bullied online? If you act like the person you want to grow up to be, you’ll be on the road to being that person.

Now, look at your social media platforms.

Think about what a firefighter would say to the comments you see online. You have a long way to go before you can join a team of firefighters, but your journey can start when you act smart and strong online. It’s like having a firefighter writing your posts!

Adults tell you all the time: “Be careful what you post on social media! The Internet is forever!” Teachers say: “When you apply for college, the school might reject you because of all those pictures and mean posts.”

You hear over and over: “People who hire employees will read your history and you might not get the job you want.” You smile, nod, then roll your eyes. Who cares about what happens in five, ten or twenty years?

Someone just made a post that makes you angry—you feel that you must post some angry comment back. You take a picture of yourself drawing a rude image on a neighbor’s fence and snicker as you upload it to your page.

Stop. Take your fingers off your phone or keyboard. What you are told is true. The Internet saves everything you do today. People can see all your posts five, ten and even twenty years from now. People have lost jobs for postings made years before.

If you want to be, say, the boss of a company or a famous dancer or a doctor or mayor of a city, think about that when you post online. A firefighter’s job is to face danger and save lives—would someone like that make mean posts to a little kid?

Would a great engineer type hurtful words to a person who is different from him or her?  Maybe you won’t become a great engineer if you can’t get into college because of mean comments posted when you were a kid.

Think about what you want to be. Imagine reaching your goals. You could dream of being an athlete, a pop star, a carpenter, a zoologist—whatever it is, think about how The Future You would act online. What would a nurse post when a person talks about being in pain?

What would a great world leader do when he or she sees someone being bullied online? If you act like the person you want to grow up to be, you’ll be on the road to being that person.

Now, look at your social media platforms.

Think about what a firefighter would say to the comments you see online. You have a long way to go before you can join a team of firefighters, but your journey can start when you act smart and strong online. It’s like having a firefighter writing your posts!

A Story of Before and After

My odd friends are once again teaching me how what we think can sometimes fool us. Let me tell you about Rahim and Sandy. Rahim is a quiet, gentle guy and all the girls I know have a secret crush on him. The one with the biggest crush is Sandy. What put him in solid with her was when she saw him one afternoon at the mall.

A girl who was dressed kind of oddly was being bullied by a group of rude boys. Sandy, watching in the food court, saw Rahim stride up to the group and order the boys away from the girl who by this time was crying.

Rahim stood between the weeping girl and bullies until mall security came and escorted the boys away. Sandy watched as the guards thanked Rahim and the girl’s mother ran up to hug her girl.

Sandy texted me from the food court: “Rahim is awesome. He’s so strong and kind. I like him so much.”

I smiled and set my phone aside.

A busy week of school and sports and gossiping passed. Sandy spent every spare moment she could with Rahim. They took breaks together, went for slushies together and biked away from school together every day.

Sandy texted me: “I know we are just friends, but Rahim is the guy I see with me for a long time.”

This was before.

The very next day after that text, Sandy saw a picture on social media of the bullied girl from the mall kissing Rahim on the cheek. In another picture, Rahim and mall-girl were sitting close to each other eating burgers and looking happy.

At this point, Sandy texted me: “How could I be so stupid. Rahim took advantage of a bullied girl and now is hanging with her.

He was only nice to her because she was so pretty. And all this week while he was hanging with me, he was also hanging out with this girl.

He must be one of those guys who needs lots of girlfriends to feel good about himself. I saw that in a movie last week.”

I rolled my eyes and turned off my phone.

Sandy does this all the time. Before the mall incident, Rahim is sweet and sensitive. After the mall, he’s the villain on a television show. Sandy is my friend and I’m going to have to talk with her about making assumptions. I need to tell her that mall-girl is Rahim’s cousin.

My odd friends are once again teaching me how what we think can sometimes fool us. Let me tell you about Rahim and Sandy. Rahim is a quiet, gentle guy and all the girls I know have a secret crush on him. The one with the biggest crush is Sandy. What put him in solid with her was when she saw him one afternoon at the mall.

A girl who was dressed kind of oddly was being bullied by a group of rude boys. Sandy, watching in the food court, saw Rahim stride up to the group and order the boys away from the girl who by this time was crying.

Rahim stood between the weeping girl and bullies until mall security came and escorted the boys away. Sandy watched as the guards thanked Rahim and the girl’s mother ran up to hug her girl.

Sandy texted me from the food court: “Rahim is awesome. He’s so strong and kind. I like him so much.”

I smiled and set my phone aside.

A busy week of school and sports and gossiping passed. Sandy spent every spare moment she could with Rahim. They took breaks together, went for slushies together and biked away from school together every day.

Sandy texted me: “I know we are just friends, but Rahim is the guy I see with me for a long time.”

This was before.

The very next day after that text, Sandy saw a picture on social media of the bullied girl from the mall kissing Rahim on the cheek. In another picture, Rahim and mall-girl were sitting close to each other eating burgers and looking happy.

At this point, Sandy texted me: “How could I be so stupid. Rahim took advantage of a bullied girl and now is hanging with her.

He was only nice to her because she was so pretty. And all this week while he was hanging with me, he was also hanging out with this girl.

He must be one of those guys who needs lots of girlfriends to feel good about himself. I saw that in a movie last week.”

I rolled my eyes and turned off my phone.

Sandy does this all the time. Before the mall incident, Rahim is sweet and sensitive. After the mall, he’s the villain on a television show. Sandy is my friend and I’m going to have to talk with her about making assumptions. I need to tell her that mall-girl is Rahim’s cousin.

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