SPECIAL REPORT: Safe Smartphones for Kids - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

SPECIAL REPORT: Safe Smartphones for Kids

(WXTX) -

It's no secret: predators are always looking for new ways to target kids, but are cell phones giving online solicitors easy access to innocent children? 

A new report says 40 percent of all young internet users say adults have asked them for sexually explicit pictures of themselves. 

Cell phones for teens have become the craze – every child wants one. Consumer news says six out of ten children ages eight to 12 known as tweens have mobile devices. 

Meet little Morgan Morish, a five- year-old who has her own iPhone

"I like playing games and when people call me, I don't know, I just hang up," Morish said.

Morgan's mom Rasheedah said her daughter is mature enough to handle a smart phone although she admits to being ridiculed.

"She's too young, that she's a diva, that I'm spoiling her, but it wasn't about that, it was about her own independence, to have her music on her phone," Rasheedah said.

Despite the backlash from friends and family, Rasheedah said she did consider the dangers associated with smart phones. The headlines tell stories warning over 'bullying by mobile,' the disturbing new teen trend sexting, and how kids' pictures are going from social networks to porn sites.

"She cannot get into the Wi-Fi  unless I turn it on and she doesn't have any data outside the house," Rasheedah said.

Rasheeda said she feels Morgan is safe from online predators by activating those built-in-blocks on Morgan's iPhone and constantly monitoring what she's doing and who she's talking to.

To protect your child even more---you can take it a step further with parental control software

MobShield is one of many products that allows you to filter and restrict usage. Verizon Wireless also has a family locater, letting you set up alerts and track your child's every move from your computer or mobile device. 

Statistics from the Pew Research Center show more than 54 percent of parents in the U.S. said they use standalone software to manage their children's online activity.  You could pay on average between from $5 to $10 a month.

"You can also ask for the address and get turn by turn directions," said Ondrey Williams, manager at Verizon Wireless.  

Dr. Burhanettin Keskin, an assistant professor in CSU's early childhood education department, stopped short of pinpointing a certain age that's appropriate for a child to have mobile phone. He also disputes the notion of using PCs to protect children against unwanted advances from online predators.

"The technologies that you mentioned, the parental control, there not perfect, and that means children who are going to use the internet, they can get around it," Dr. Keskin said.

Dr. Keskin also said parents need to be concerned about the amount of radiation their child receives by using a smart phone like an iPhone, although there's been no conclusive evidence of the effects radiation from a cell phone has on a child's brain.

"A child's brain develops over time and we know that radiation does affect the brain," Dr. Keskin said.  

In 2011, an international study showed no link between cell phone use and brain tumors in teens

For techie toddlers like Morgan, tweens and teens, reports show online predators are lurking in cyberspace searching for their next victim...so beware. 

Copyright 2012 WXTX. All rights reserved.

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