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Put Your Cell Phone DOWN: Texting and Driving

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We welcome Erika Napoletano of RedheadWriting to the FaceFile blog! Blogger, social media strategist and admitted technophile, you can find her (often irreverent) insights on social media, business, writing and blogging at RedheadWriting.com. Follow her on Twitter (if you dare!).

Isn't it time to put the phone down and drive?

Isn't it time to put the phone down and drive?

I was guilty of it. Once.

A text from a date … I couldn’t wait to respond. I (gulp) texted him back at the hasty speed of about 68 MPH.

That was, until I almost missed the big rig merging into the lane in front of me.

After having my own little “life montage moment,” it was clear: put the cell phone DOWN! This was almost a year ago and I have yet to do it again. Seriously.

We’re all annoyed when the drivers surrounding us act like fifteen-year-olds on their first day behind the wheel, so why do we do it? Obama’s recent ban on Federal workers texting while driving made quite the new buzz in October and as early as 2008, several state were trying to push through legislation to the same effect.  According to a New York Times Poll, nearly all Americans think that texting while driving should be illegal.

My question: who’s still texting behind the wheel if we all hate it so much?

On occasion, I fall victim to iPhone-itis and respond to a text while at a stoplight or check my email. Light turns green – phone gets relegated to the passenger seat or docking station. But I don’t text while driving. I’e even been known to pull off into a parking lot or park on a side street if something needed to be handled right then and there. I will also make the person calling me wait to speak with me until I put my headset in. I’m no saint, but having a little “come-to-Jesus” moment will definitely make you rethink your communication strategy, no?

A British PSA has definitely garnered some strong responses on the texting while driving issue. We’ll direct you to the Huffington Post to view with the disclaimer that it is graphic in nature and YouTube requires you to sign in to view the video. Sometimes scared straight works, I think.

I applaud those states who have already gone to hands-free mandates for drivers. Want to know the skinny in your state? Check this list form the Governors Highway Safety Association. If there’s legislation pending in your state for banning texting while driving, send your Representative a letter of support. Simply Google “(your state) texting while driving” and that should give you some solid results.

What are your thoughts, stories and feedback on the recent and pending cell phone safety laws? Are we intoxicated by communication? Let us know below.

Written by Erika Napoletano

November 3rd, 2009 at 10:55 am

Cell Phone Safety – Cell Phone Rules in Our House

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Kids and cell phones - what are the rules in your house?

Kids and cell phones - what are the rules in your house?

Teenagers and cell phones – they go together like biscuits and gravy. Or pastrami and rye, depending on where you live. But no matter where you live, one thing is universal: it’s possible for teens to get in trouble with cell phones. Where there’s potential trouble, there have to be rules.

We gave in early to our teens having cell phones. As soon as they were allowed to go somewhere without one of us, we decided it was time for their own phones. I remember growing up and using “But there wasn’t a phone there!” or “I didn’t have a quarter” as excuses to be late for dinner or go places other than where I said I was going. Teens today don’t have that luxury. The reason we let them have phone wasn’t to boost their social standing: it was for parental peace of mind. I know that if they get in trouble and need me, they can call or text me and I’ll be on my way. I also know that I’ve got “kid-on-demand.” I can instantly talk to either of my girls and ask them where they are and who they are with, and they’re at my beck and call via speed dial.

That leads to rule number one: They will always answer the phone when I call. Aside from swimming, I can’t think of one other activity teenagers could (or should) be participating in that would make them physically unable to answer the phone. Sure, playing football or being in a movie theater might count, but I always know when my kids are doing that and I don’t call. They know that if they don’t answer, I’m going to call back again and again until they do and I’m not going to be happy about having to keep at it to get an answer.

Rule number two: Their phones are accessible by their parents on-demand. Boy, this makes them mad, but it’s important. I don’t go snooping through texts or check voice mails on my girls’ phones, but they know that I can. And if I have strong evidence that something unsafe is going on, I certainly will.

Rule number three: Always observe proper phone etiquette. No calls or texting during inappropriate situations such as during school/class time, family meals or when ordering at a restaurant. It’s just good manners. I see enough adults doing it that I’m not going to let my girls get into these bad habits as well.

Rule number four: Remember that I pay the bill. This isn’t a rule so much as a reminder to them that I’m going to know what’s going on when the bill arrives each month. I have a list of  numbers for all their legitimate contacts and if I see that one of my girls is talking to someone I don’t know, I’m going to find out who it is.

Rule number five: Never, ever give your phone number out online. The danger of that is obvious. We have installed keystroke tracking software that monitors every time a phone number is typed into the computer. (That last sentence is completely untrue, but our kids believe it.)

Raising two teenage girls is tough enough without laying in bed worrying about predators or boys with bad intentions accessing them through their phone. A little diligence and some firm rules go a long way towards us sleeping better at night.

Written by Rob Wilcox

August 18th, 2009 at 9:00 pm

When Does Your Child Need a Cell Phone?

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Kids and cell phones - when is the right time?

Kids and cell phones - when is the right time?

If you have a child any older than seven, you’ve probably already have had the “I want my own cell phone” discussion. Of course, every child wants a cell phone … but when does your child need a cell phone?

The need for a phone in the eyes of children is probably going to start the first time one of their peers gets one. Yes, some parent is going to give their kid a phone way before most other parents are ready. That’s a time when you need to hold your ground as the parent. Reasons like “Brianna has one” or “because it’s cool” aren’t valid enough to bend your judgment on what you feel is the right time to dole-out a cell phone to your kids.

However, there are some solid reasons to get your child a phone. Most parents take the plunge when the child has shown enough responsibility to potentially take care of the device and is spending time without parents. If you child is hanging out with friends or old enough to go to the mall without supervision, it might be time to get them a phone. Your kid can call if they are running late, and more importantly, call or text in case of emergency. You can also open a Face File account and instruct your child on how to use it and the phone’s camera function any time he or she happens to be in an unfamiliar or uncomfortable situation.

Once your child is driving, getting them a cell phone is a good idea. In fact, it’s almost a necessity from a safety standpoint. If there is a breakdown or accident, you want to know that your child can contact you or someone trustworthy to get help. Most parents get a phone for their kids somewhere in the 13 to 15 year-old age range.

There are phones that are made specifically for children, one of the most popular being the Firefly. There are parental controls and prepaid plans so you can stay in control of how the phone is used, and you won’t be surprised by a hefty texting bill caused by a kid who lost track of the limit. It’s also easy to get your kid connected with various family plans and buy one, get one free offers that most carriers have at one point or another. It doesn’t have to break the bank to get you kid in a phone call’s distance and if you opt for the Face File option, most  cell phones these days have cameras as standard as an added layer of protection.

Once you make the leap, talk to your child about the responsibility involved with having and phone, then relax. The safety and peace of mind that come with knowing they can contact you anytime makes it all worth it.

Written by FaceFile Safety Team

August 11th, 2009 at 8:56 pm