5 Tips for Using Your Cell Phone Safely
Cell phones are a major part of our lives, and getting a new phone can be an exciting time. But just when you’re using the internet there are certain things you need to remember to use your cell phone safely. Here are a few of the most important things to keep in mind.
1. Understand how mobile networks and data work
There’s more than one way to get online with a cell phone: you’ve got your service provider (T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T, etc.) with its mobile network (usually LTE) and you can also connect to Wi-Fi. Most phones show which one you’re connected to at the top of the screen.
Mobile networks like LTE can have data limits. If you use up all your data for a month, your service might be slowed down or your parents might get an extra charge on their bill. You’re probably on a family plan, which means this data is shared among all the members of your family. Talk to your parents about your data limit and how much you can use each month.
2. Remember you can make emergency calls on other networks
No matter what type of network you’re connected to, you can always use your phone to dial 911 in case of an emergency. You can even dial 911 when you have no signal at all if you’re still in a service area of another network. This is important to remember because emergencies can happen anywhere. If you have an iPhone, you can also call for help by holding down the side button (iPhone 8 or later) or pressing it five times (iPhone 7 or earlier).
3. Don’t answer calls or texts from numbers you don’t know
Scam phone calls have become really common in the last couple years. Some phones, like the iPhone, sometimes show “Scam Likely” on the caller ID if this happens. But it’s a good idea to ignore calls and texts from any number you don’t recognize. To make sure you don’t miss an important call, add your friends and family to your contacts so you know who’s calling before you answer.
4. Never send photos or videos to someone you don’t know
Instead of trying to scam or steal personal information, strangers might ask you for photos or videos of yourself. The person may pretend to be someone you know. Never send photos of yourself to numbers you don’t recognize. This also goes for people on Snapchat or Instagram or other apps. If someone is asking for pictures or videos, take a screenshot and show your parents.
5. Talk to an adult about whatever makes you uncomfortable
If you come across something in an app or online that seems strange or makes you feel uncomfortable, discuss it with your parents or an adult you trust. This might sound scary, but they want you to be safe while using the internet, and they can explain what you’re seeing and give you advice for dealing with it in the future. And remember, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is!
Cell phones are exciting, but they can also be overwhelming. They give us access to a world of information and entertainment. If you have questions about using your phone or anything you find online, make sure to talk to your parents. They can give you advice on how they use their phones and how to stay safe with yours.
Victoria Schmid enjoys writing about technology for the “everyday” person. She is a specialist in online business marketing and consumer technology. She has a background in broadcast journalism.