Check out these links to learn of the current happenings around family safety, cell phones and technology:

 

    

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    In Case You Missed It…

    January 19, 2011

    Last year our CEO, Daniel Neal, wrote a great piece about the idea of setting guidelines on your child’s cell phone usage to help keep them safe and teach responsibility. I love this post. So much so that I am now re-posting the write-up to prevent interested parents, like you, from missing it. Enjoy!

    by Daniel Neal

    The Kaiser Family Foundation recently released a study that reviewed kid’s media use – excluding cell phone texting and talking – and found that kids 8-18 are using media an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes a day.  The study found that texting adds another 1 hour and 35 minutes per day.  The study also found that high media use is correlated with lower personal satisfaction and lower grades. Parents are rightly concerned.

    A major challenge in the world of cell phones has been bearing down on us for several years. And now it’s here. Extremely powerful mobile devices – small computers, really – are now in the hands of our children for large parts of the day, creating all kinds of questions, problems and conflicts. With two ‘mobile kids’ of my own, I live with the challenge of making sure my children make the best possible use of their powerful mobile devices – and avoid the pitfalls.

    As a parent, I do not believe that ‘every child has to have a cell phone. Though I know that virtually every child wants one, the decision is a child’s parents to make. Still, the Kaiser Family Foundation study finds that 66% of 8 – 18 year olds now have cell phones. And the number is steadily growing. It’s our view that, within 5 years, nearly every child above the age of 10 (and probably younger), will carry around what we’d today call a Smartphone.

    Parents are getting their children cell phones for safety, to improve family logistics, to help their kids connect with friends, and to keep the family in closer touch. (My kids and I love texting each other when I’m traveling for work.) All good reasons. And soon, cell phones will be integrated into more school activities and processes.

    Yet, despite the benefits, parents want to find ways to make sure cell phone use doesn’t distract their kids from school, homework, and sleep. And they want to shield their children from dangers such as sexting; texting while driving; being harassed, tracked or worse by strangers; and bullying, much of which is now conducted online or via cell phone. (I was just at my daughter’s middle school orientation last week, and this was the most talked-about topic.)

    At kajeet, seeing that cell phones were in the cards for most kids, we set out to be part of the solution. From our earliest beginnings, we’ve thought about our service as a kind of “kitchen table,” a place where parents and their children can negotiate the right boundaries and limits, which, as we know, change with time and circumstances. By building kajeet with apowerful suite of monitoring, alert, control and budgeting features, we’ve put the power of managing the challenges, risks and potential dangers directly in the hands of families.

    Now, without even signing up to a contract (parents insisted on that point), families can manage their kids’ service via the easy-to-use kajeet parental controls. Just by logging in to our Web site, parents can ensure that the talk they had with their child is put into practice: who they can text and call, when, what features of their phone they can use, who pays for what. Plus, parents can monitor the phone’s activity, track their child’s phone, and even get alerts telling them where the phone is at set times. (For example, I get e-mail alerts each morning that tell me whether my kids have arrived at school, and, in the afternoon, telling me whether or not they’ve made it home. That works for me.)

    But the actual conversation between parent and child is really the most important thing. Our technology supports and implements what comes from that conversation. So, we asked ourselves how we might contribute more to those conversations, beyond simply providing affordable and easy-to-use technology to manage and monitor your child’s cell phone.

    After talking with many kajeet families, we have come up with a set of guidelines that families can review before giving their child a cell phone in order to avoid the common pitfalls many families encounter:

    1. Establish a contract covering the rules of use before giving your child his or her first cell phone. Cover “who, where, and how much” cell phone use is appropriate.    (Here’s a sample contract you can tailor to meet your own family’s needs.)
    2. Agree to put the cell phone in a central recharging area at night, in a powered down condition. (And, to be green, unplug the charger when it’s not in use.
    3. Discuss and reach agreement on appropriate cell phone etiquette (including use of phones during meals, at restaurants, and in public areas)
    4. Discuss the appropriate use of picture messaging and the hazards of inappropriate use. (Yes, we’re talking about sexting here.)
    5. Get an iron-clad commitment that the phone will not be used when driving. Discuss what your child should do if in a car with a driver who is texting.
    6. Review the rules of cell phones at school, and reach agreement that all school rules regarding cell phone use will be followed.
    7. Establish a budget and identify who will pay for use of the cell phone.
    8. Review the consequences if the agreed-upon rules of use are broken.

    Many kajeet parents find it useful to periodically review the detailed account activity with their child to make sure that the phone is being used appropriately.

    This may seem like good ol’ common sense. Good. But we parents are busy people, and it’s important to find the small amount of time it takes to set the ground rules for kids’ use of cell phones. That’s just as important as experiencing the excitement of giving the phone as a gift, or sending your child off to school or camp.

    At kajeet, we’ve committed ourselves to helping families have better conversations, better tools to control that small computer their kids are toting, and a simple dashboard that allows for effective monitoring of their child’s communications.

    But regardless of who you’ve chosen to be your child’s cell phone provider, outlining the rules and establishing a contract for use of this mobile computer can help families ensure the phone is a tool that keeps their child safe and teaches them responsibility.

    kajeet – the cell phone service made for kids

     

    Check out these links to learn of the current happenings around family safety and technology:

    Green is an awesome color. I mean, look at all the cool things that are green:

     

     

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    kajeet – the cell phone service made for kids

    “This is the world we live in, what can you do?” – Anonymous Parent

    The above quote sheds a lot of truth about the difficulties parents are having with controlling their children’s technology usage. It’s tough for parents these days, a lot of us have to make adjustments on the fly, mainly because technology moves at such a rapid pace and it’s hard to keep up! From cell phones to TV to laptops to their PSP, it is certainly a different world to grow up in as they are constantly surrounded by high-powered technology. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, a recent survey has come out with some statistics that could potentially lead to some disturbing consequences.

    Doctors at the JFK Sleep Disorders Center in New Jersey recently came out with a survey that concluded kids send an average of 34 texts per night after “going to bed.” Eeek! Additionally, their results show that many kids sleep with their phones by their side (you probably already knew this), and are often awoken during the night by a text or phone call, thus causing serious sleep loss – a major problem that can be very scary for parents! Not getting enough sleep can lead to several problems for tweens and teenagers such as irritability, drop in critical thinking skills, mood swings, and even anxiety. I hope I am not scaring you too much! I just wanted to make sure you have the facts, for a wise mom once said, parents need to be geniuses on the topic of their children’s lives!

    Young pups need their sleep!

    What’s a parent to do? It is a tough issue to handle for sure…but we can help! If your kid has a kajeet phone, you are able to use the TimeManager parental control to setup time blocks to limit when the phone can be used. With this great parental control, you have the ability to turn off phone usage at night and turn it back on in the morning. Pretty handy! Your children might not like it today, but they will hopefully thank you for the extra sleep later on (and by later I mean in 20 years when they have kids of their own)!

    As a parent, what else can you do to prevent sleep-loss? We want to hear your ideas!

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