Don’t Lose Your Kids in the MallJason Siddall
No one likes to listen to bad news but when knowledge means power to protect our children, we are all ears. According to Missing Children South Africa, one child goes missing every five hours in this country alone. That sends chills down the spine – parents or not.
The ramifications of equipping children with electronic devices are hotly debated but cell phones and smartwatches equipped with LBS* (Location Based Services) are noticeably enhancing child safety.
Digital parenting is a brave new world but knowing where our children are, what they’re doing and who they’re with is becoming more essential with every passing day. There are plenty of age-appropriate checks and locks parents can fit to devices used by children to warrant their having such. Parents can exercise remote controls or set times to deactivate devices during class so as not to disturb lessons. Some schools require children to hand in their devices to a central station or the various class teachers. With would-be abductors being able to access school grounds and toilets, it is in the interests of child safety for children to keep their devices on them at all times. Smartwatches are fast becoming the preferable option to that end. Parents who to establish healthy rules for digital downtime, while equipping them to use them when it counts are making smart use of technology.
Facing Facts on the Matter of Child Safety
Helping our children face reality, however negative it be, is better than having them live blindly as if life is a fairy tale. Neither can we live thinking, ‘it’ll never happen to me’! The stories are all the same – no parent or child-minder let a child disappear on purpose – one moment they’re there, the next they’re gone. Too late then to wish we’d been more prepared. Abductions and kidnappings take place right in front of others, whether outside the school gates, from homes, shops, parks and cars. Shopping malls being top of the child safety list and cell phones with LBS can literally save our children’s lives. When our teens are at the mall with friends, LBS ca reassure us of their safety. Helping youngsters to understand that our motive is their safety is best established as a family value long before the ‘I need my privacy, Mom’ years begin.
In Child Safety, Being Forewarned is Forearmed
It’s almost never too early to start familiarising children with the digital world, but just having a device is not what saves anyone, it’s knowing how to use it. One-year-olds are ready to tap and swipe. Most can’t tie their own shoelaces before, as if by some osmosis we as parents missed, they can understand how to use the latest electronic gadgetry. Improving finger dexterity by encouraging children to play games on their devices will make it second nature. Child safety includes protecting them from violent games so, we don’t mean those – we mean that familiarise them with the keypad. Soon, they won’t need to look at it to use it. Each year they grow, we can add further lessons – sending and receiving messages, locating stored ICE (In Case of Emergency) numbers and the like. Practice sessions are a fun way to prepare for scenarios. Children are more resilient and resourceful than we imagine but acting our serious where they practice sending abbreviated texts with their eyes closed. Child safety preparation can be fun.
Child Saves 15 People Thanks to LBS
In 2016, the New York Post reported how a seven-year-old boy, who’d been given a cell phone from a volunteer worker at a camp in Calais, France used it to save himself and fourteen other migrants who became victims of human trafficking. The boy texted the woman who had given him the phone. The Help Refugees charity-based organization traced the phone’s location to a highway service station where the police rescued all 15 oxygen-starved migrants.
Four Fast Tips Child Safety:
- Save your old devices – keep the batteries charged and keep it with other items for emergencies.
- Create a Code – Text messaging has proven more effective than trying to make calls – create a code with your children. Code words for certain situations so they can send a text from their pocket without alerting the abductors.
- Inform others – Let close family know your arrangements. In the event you are unavailable they can be brought in knowing what to do.
- ICE numbers – have a list of easily accessible emergency contacts.
* In South Africa, mobile LBS services are only available on MTN and Vodacom LBS for parents are entering the market thick and fast.