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Warning signs of cell phone misuse

Keep them safe and focused

Smartphones are tremendous tools that hold all of the power of the internet and a cell phone in your pocket, but giving the devices to kids is a touchy subject. Look for these warning signs to see if your child is misusing their cell phone.

tween on cellphone

Hiding their phone from you

This is a classic sign of someone having something to hide — whether it's a partner cheating or a child making sure you don't read the texts from that boy you don't like. If your child is constantly carrying their phone around and afraid to leave it alone anywhere at any time, they could be hiding something, such as pictures, texts or risque status updates. Know how much hiding is too much. It could be a coincidence that your kid carries their phone from room to room with them if they're expecting a call or an important email, but guarding their phone when you attempt to use it is a telltale sign.

Texting at inappropriate times

Texting is an easy way to communicate that can be very effective if used properly, but some teens don't know when enough is enough. If your teen is texting during school, in church, while driving or late at night, it's a cause for concern. You don't want something as simple as a text distracting them from what's important or risking their safety. Discuss your expectations of texting with your teen and let them know you'll be monitoring their bad behavior and rewarding the good.

Too much time spent on their phones

We all know what it's like to stare at a screen just a little bit too long. With all that the internet, apps and texting have to offer, sometimes it hardly feels worth it to go outside and get some exercise or do homework. However, those things are essential to teen mental and physical health. Limit phone play time to one hour a night. That entertainment time should be combined with internet and TV time to make sure your child has enough time to unwind from school without distracting them from what's important.

More reading

Kids and cell phones: What you need to know
Lessons all teens should know about texting
Teaching kids about cell phone safety

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