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Find answers to common questions and concerns

What is cyberbullying?

The use of information communications technology (cell phones, computers, and other electronic devices) to willfully and repeatedly upset someone (see our safety guide Safety Tips for Cyberbullying (PDF)).

You can learn more at the Cyberbullying Research Center.

What is “sexting”?

The act of sending revealing or sexually explicit messages or photographs - primarily using cell phones.

Should I filter my kids internet use?

Many parents feel they can trust their kids to use technology responsibly. However, while this may be the case, kids may accidentally wander (or worse, be fooled by a cybercriminal) where they never intended. For this reason, we recommend using a reputable security product to block access to sites that are scams or have been hacked. And, based on the age and maturity of the child, filter categories of sites, or specific sites, based on what you feel is most appropriate. This technology, however, does not replace the need for you to guide them on what’s appropriate and what is not, and to tell you if they come across something that is troublesome.

My son/daughter keeps asking me if they can get onto Facebook. What should I tell them?

First, most social networking sites require you to be age 13 to join. And, assuming they are old enough, you should walk through or advise them on setting it up and using it wisely. Using the strongest privacy settings possible is important - but the best way to maintain privacy and manage a good online reputation is to assume anything you post could be shared broadly and to treat people online (whether you know them or not) with respect. Learn more in our safety guide on Safety Tips for Social Networking (PDF).

How old should my child be before I get them a cell phone?

This is a personal decision and depends what the purpose of the cell phone will be. Many parents buy one for their kids for safety purposes – to know they can contact parents and be contacted when necessary.

Recent data shows on average, kids are getting them around 12-13 years old, or as they enter middle school (according to research from Pew Internet & American Life).

In addition to age, you need to consider your children’s readiness to be responsible for the phone (breakage, loss) and, if they are older, to help pay for the cost (texting, usage costs).

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