Q & A With John Walsh: iPhone GPS and Keeping Our Kids Safe
John Walsh has brought the 25th season of America's Most Wanted to Lifetime! You asked, and he answered. Below are tips and thoughts from the host himself. Don't miss the show, Fridays at 9pm/8c.
iPhone GPS- good idea or bad idea to keep track of your kids?
John Walsh: These days, kids carry so many technical gadgets, but a cell phone can be a real life-saver. I think it’s a great idea to track our children using GPS in cell phones. Cops use the GPS in cell phones to track missing people all the time and in my experience working with law enforcement, it can make the crucial difference between police recovering a body or recovering a missing person or child alive.
I also think the earlier the better for parents to have their children carry cell phones, and have them be regulated to limit minutes and texting. If you can, have the phones be pre-programmed to dial 9-1-1 so if your child finds himself in trouble at soccer practice or ballet rehearsal, they can make a direct call for help.
Ultimately, it’s the parents’ decision on when is the appropriate age for their children to have a cell phone, but when the time comes, here is a helpful checklist from the U.S. Department of Justice to review with the kids:
- Know who is texting or calling and only use your phone to communicate with people you know.
- Know what not to send. Inappropriate messages or pictures can be easily shared with mobile phones and can have far-reaching consequences.
- Talk to your kids about cyberbullying, and what to do if they receive calls or messages that make them feel uncomfortable.
- It’s important to consider phone etiquette, such as when to keep your phone on silent, and what is courteous behavior to others while using your phone.
- Always stay aware of your surroundings while speaking or texting on your phone. Distracted phone use can put you at risk of injury, theft or worse.
Teaching our kids to stay safe- is it a different discussion with boys vs. girls, or should it be handled the same way?
John Walsh: When it comes to our children, teaching them to be safe is the same for both boys and girls, and we should go over it with them time and time again. We need to keep the lines of communication open with our children, especially when they’re young. The information doesn’t process the same in six, seven, eight, nine-year-olds as it does when they’re older. Make it a habit to talk to your children before you leave the house together, you want to have a family game plan in case you get separated somewhere like the mall. What should the child do? Who should they go to for help? The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children had done a survey that found that children can be more knowledgeable than parents on what to do in this situation. Kids responded that they knew not to leave the mall and that they should seek help from a security guard or cop. Those are good tips and I would recommend for parents to tell their children in that situation to go to a mom or a grandmother with children if they first can’t find a cop.