Protecting kids from cellphone predators

POSTED: 05:49 PM PST Jan 18, 2013 
texting on cellphone
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -

How do you keep potential predators from texting your kids?  Do you have to check every text message on your child's phone, or is that an invasion of privacy?  We talked with parents and kids about the issue.

Technology not only has become a part of our lives, it's also a part of the classroom.

"Oh yes, I pay for her cellphone for the fact that she always gets ahold of me after school and before school," said Veronica Garcia, a local parent.

With social media, text messages and the Internet, predators have more ways to get ahold of our children.

"There are bad people in every kind of profession, so it's up to the parents to be able to monitor what's going on with their kids," said Robert Tindall, a Palm Springs resident.

With smart phone technology, it's nearly impossible  for parents to monitor everything that their teens are doing; that's why all of the major phone carriers have come up with parent controls.

For $4.99, all of the main carriers allow parents to dictate when their kids can make calls and who they can call.  Verizon, T-mobile and Sprint take it a step further, letting parents decide which phone numbers are allowed to call and text message their kids.

"Parents should always look at their child's texts to see what's going on, 'cause you never know what this child might be doing outside of school," said Christian Flores, a senior at Palm Springs High School.

"If they are not monitoring, who is?" said Natalie Muldrew, a recent graduate of Palm Springs High School.

But is it really necessary to go that far? Almost everyone we talked to was willing to let their parents see their text messages.  

"My parents were nice enough to give me a cellphone when we were younger and they made the rules, I would have had to," said 23-year-old Andrew Baur.

"I have nothing to hide, a child who doesn't want their parents to see their text messages usually have something to hide," said Muldrew.

Veronica Garcia says it's about trust.  "I don't monitor, honestly I don't.  I just give her the benefit of the doubt because she is a good kid."

Some people worry too much regulation won't protect kids at all.

"I've also grown up with kids who had parents who were very constricting on them and it almost backfired," said Baur.

"I think everyone deserves their own space," said 22-year-old Michael Bolling.

"I think parents definitely want their kids to be safe, so its very important to have some regulation but at the same time you have to be able to let you kids go a little bit," said Baur.

For more information about parent controls for cellphones, contract your wireless provider.