If you’re the parent of an adolescent or teenager, you may be grappling with the idea of giving them a phone. Of course it would be good for them to be able to contact you when they (or you) are away from home, but screens are addicting and social media can be dangerous. However, if you ask Ellie Perico (@fitcopmom on Instagram), the pros definitely outweigh the cons—especially because there are more kid-friendly phones on the market that come equipped with limited internet access.
In addition to being a mom, Perico is also a police officer and has surely seen some scary things throughout her career. Because of that, she’s created some smart ways to help her kids get out of uncomfortable situations without fear of retribution from their peers, or her. The deputy shared the valuable child safety tip in a reel that’s gone viral for good reason.
“Have the conversations with your kids & know how to help get them out of uncomfortable situations. Be the one they go to, not the one they’re afraid to go to,” she captioned the reel. “My kids & I have a secret code (an emoji they’ll text me) if they’re [in a] situation they want to get out of without their friends or whoever they’re with knowing about it.”
“When they send it, I immediately call them & go mom crazy on them, telling them to come home immediately or I go pick them up immediately if needed,” Perico admitted. “This avoids an uncomfortable situation and/or making poor decisions out of peer pressure or to avoid being embarrassed in front of their friends.”
Of course, the only way your child is able to contact you this way is via cell phone, and Perico advocated the importance of getting them one pronto. “If your kids don’t have a phone, get them one. Even kids in elementary school, especially the upper grades, need a way to safely communicate with their parents,” she noted. “They don’t need full access to the internet and social media. There are phones, such as my kids’ Gabb devices, that have texting, calling, photo messages, video messaging, maps, calculators, music and other parent approved apps without social media or games that kids can communicate with strangers on or get distracted.”
Perico continued: “And they have accurate GPS so you know where your kids are at all times, play safety features such as safety zones set up so you’re notified if your child leaves a certain designated area (school, home, etc), remote text monitoring so you see any fogged messages directly on the partner app, SOS button to call for help quickly and more.”
We never want to instill fear in our children, but it’s also important to talk to them about uncomfortable situations and make a plan to help them identify and remove themselves safely. Are they going to make mistakes? Yes! We all did as adolescents (and still do as adults). But like Perico said, strive to be the one they go to, not the one they are afraid to go to.