Keeping Our Families Safe with AT&T #ATTMobileSafety

By Shannon Gosney
In Press Release
November 6, 2012
1 Comment

On October 22nd, I had the opportunity to participate in a Mobile Safety School Virtual Webinar with The Motherhood and AT&T.  This webinar session focused on ages 8-11.  With today’s technology, families can be more connected than ever, but it also brings about new issues that can’t be ignored, such as bullying, privacy, texting while driving and more.  AT&T has developed this program to provide tips, tools and resources for parents to help their families stay connected and stay safe.

AT&T conducted a study of 1,000 parents and 500 kids – ages 8-17 – on a variety of topics that relate to mobile phones, devices and other issues.  The following was found from the study:

Many of you have probably either asked or been asked … what the right age to give a child a mobile phone is?  While it can’t really be said what is “right” – it can be said that the average age is 12.1.  Kids’ first phones by age group:

– Age 8-11 – average 9.5 years
– Age 12-14 – averages age 11.3 years
– Age 15-17 – average age 13.3 years

In addition, AT&T found that, of kids who have mobile phones, 34% have smartphones.  Percentage of smartphone adoption by age group:

– Age 12-14 – 35% have smartphones
– Age 15-17 – 37% have smartphones

What parents are concerned about in their kids’ use of mobile phones:

– 89% are worried about texting and driving
– 67% are concerned about bullying text messages
– 69% are concerned about sexually suggestive messages
– 77% are worried about their kids receiving calls from unknown numbers.

What AT&T found interesting is how those worries related to what was actually happening, according to kids:

– Over HALF have been in a car with someone who was texting and driving
– Over 1 in 1 have received a mean text message
– Almost half have a friend who received a sexual picture or message
– 69% have received a call from an unknown number.

So for all that worrying, the reality is that kids truly are experiencing these issues.  Whether they are telling their parents or not is a different story, but the study gave AT&T the insight that parents aren’t worrying for no reason.

When looking at the behaviors of kids and their mobile phones, one very well-known behavior is missing – and that’s overage on minutes, texts or data.  Kids are more likely to have experienced the following issues, as opposed to downloading content (such as apps or games) that lead to unexpected costs on the account:

– 53% of kids have been in a motor vehicle with someone who was texting and driving

– Over 1 in 5 have received a mean or bullying text message from another kid on their mobile phone

– Almost half (46%) have a friend who has received a message or picture that their parents would not have liked because it was too sexual

– 69% have answered a call from an unknown number.

AT&T also asked kids about the rules they have on their mobile phones.  66% said they do have rules on their phone usage, but 90% said they would be OK with their parents setting rules.  Here comes an opportunity!  Some parents might not be setting rules because they don’t think their kids will follow them, and that may not be the case.

Another interesting data point is that 93% of kids have rules on their phones at school.  So even if they don’t have rules at home – they are used to having them at school, and it could be a smooth transition to implement some of those rules at home.

AT&T also found that 76% of parents say they monitor their kids’ phones.  However, only 42% of kids say their parents monitor their phone.  A few things could be happening here.  Parents may be saying they monitor their kids’ phones, but actually give them more freedom – OR – parents are monitoring their kids’ phones without telling them that they are doing so.

2 of 5 kids say their parents have not talked to them about mobile safety, and they are more likely to have heard from their parents about stranger danger, alcohol and drugs and sex education than these issues.  While these are the standard safety issues that kids learn about from their parents and at school, these other issues are a reality for kids in today’s world.

AT&T has put together a variety of resources to help parents.  From learning what other families are doing through videos, or downloadable tip sheets, the website at has a wealth of information available to anyone who is interested.

Question and Answer Session with the Team Who Worked with AT&T to Develop the Mobile Safety School Program

Why do kids ages 8-11 actually need a phone?

Based on what we’ve heard from parents, there is no magic age.  Every family is different, and this is a personal decision that’s happening within the family unit.  We tend to see kids in this age range getting a phone if they’re spending a lot of time outside the home at weekend or after-school activities or sleepovers.

On the website, we have an article called “My First Phone” that looks at some tips for this topic.

Culturally, things have shifted.  That first step of freedom once was getting the keys to the car at age 16.  Now the phone is the new status symbol.  It’s not a reason to get a phone for your child, but it is interesting that the phone has become the new ticket to freedom in a lot of ways.

My son texts a lot and I can’t get him to stop.  Any suggestions?

AT&T has a product called Smart Limits for wireless.  It’s $4.99 per month, and you can set a monthly limite for the number of text messages you want your child to be able to send.  Some parents will have their kids charge their cell phones in the parents’ bedroom, since often parents think their kids are in bed, but they’re actually texting with friends.

Are there any common ground rules for phone ownership among kids?

From the research we looked at, the most consistent rule was no texting or talking while driving (often it was a family rule, with parents staying off the phone in the car, as well, to set a good example for younger kids).  No phones at the dinner table, no phones in the bedroom at night.  As kids get older, we found that there weren’t as many rules.  Parents get more relaxed about having the phone in the room or being able to use the phone whenever they want it.

There are resources on for rules on phones at school, responsible citizenship, new rules to think about as kids graduate to smartphones, etc.

Kids are learning a lot of their behaviors from adults.  We need to model good phone behavior for the kids in our lives.

Can we avoid giving kids a smartphone initially?

Kids are pre-disposed to smartphones because they have iPod touches that feel like smartphones, but it’s a case-by-case decision among families.   Resoundingly, one thing we heard in talking to parents is that we’re dealing with new technologies, but so many of the same rules for freedoms / privileges apply.  New tools, but old familiar rules.

It’s about what each child can handle in terms of their freedom.

We often talk to kids one-on-one about things they’re navigating with their peers.  It really depends on how mature you are.  Kids recognize having a smartphone is an extra level of responsibility, and they’re interested in talking to their parents about it and having that dialogue.

Can you talk about Family Map?

Family Map is an app you can download for your family on your individual phones.  You sign up yourself and your family members, and it allows you to log in and see where a particular phone is.  If your child is always with their phone and you want to make sure they arrive at a particular destination safely, you can log in and see that phone on a map.  You can also set alerts to make sure you check in at specific times.

It allows you to check on your kids without bothering them – avoiding the issue of texting while driving, etc.

Do schools allow kids to have cell phones on campus?

We talked with a number of educators at a PTA convention over the summer, and rules vary by school.  Some kids have to keep phones in their book bags, some have to keep them in lockers – it depends on where you live.

Are you seeing gender-based differences in terms of rules for mobile phones?

We found that results did vary a bit by gender.  Girls were tracked a little bit more strongly on their phones than boys in the household.  There wasn’t a huge difference, though.

Do moms worry more than dads about mobile phone use among kids?

Moms are a little more worried about the issues overall.  There were some issues that dads worried about more, especially when it came to kids sending sexually inappropriate messages over the phone.  With texting while driving, getting calls from unknown numbers, etc. – dads were less worried than moms abou those kinds of things.


I learned so much at the AT&T Mobile Safety Webinar for kids ages 8-11.  My oldest is 8 and I’m still not ready to give him a cell phone yet, but listening to and participating in this webinar gave me some good advice on how to handle things when he (or my other boys) are old enough to have their own cell phones.  I hope you gathered some good information from this post as well!

#ATTMobileSafety Twitter Party

When:  Friday, November 9th, 2-3 pm EST

RSVP Link:

What:  Kids face real issues with mobile phones – bullying and more. Join us to address the safety issues, exchange tips & advice, and win prizes!

AT&T has made a commitment to be a leader in providing education, resources and tools to help families better manage mobile safety. You can expect to see AT&T in your communities – starting new conversations, at times asking tough questions and helping you find solutions for your family.

This Twitter party is a great place to start! Join us for advice and support, share your own story, and ask questions.

They’ll also be giving away five fabulous prizes during the party: Two Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 devices and three $50 Target gift cards!

I received samples as part of this compensated campaign with AT&T and TheMotherhood.  The giveaway was sponsored by AT&T.   All opinions expressed in this post are 100% mine.

About Has 4151 Posts

Shannon Gurnee is the author of RedheadMom formerly "The Mommy-Files", a national blog with a loyal following. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Marriage, Family, and Human Development with a Minor in Business Management. Shannon and her husband, Frank, have a large family with 6 awesome kids and love living on the Central Coast near San Luis Obispo, California, as well as traveling around the world. A full-time Social Media and Professional Blogger, Shannon also serves as a National Brand Ambassador for many well-known companies. Her blog focuses on motherhood, family fun activities, traveling, fashion, beauty, technology, wedding ideas and recipes while providing professional opinions on products, performances, restaurants, and a variety of businesses.

One Response to “Keeping Our Families Safe with AT&T #ATTMobileSafety”

  1. Christian Alejandro N says:

    Phones are really useful, but I do believe that smartphones are not needed until later on. They become more of a distraction than tool.

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