Smartphones and Special Needs Children: Technological Solutions to a Growing Problem
Special needs parents face many challenges. It is critical that smartphones not become one of those challenges.
Smartphones have the potential to greatly enhance the lives of special needs children by providing them a mechanism for greater independence. They allow instant contact with the parent (including smart dialing applications for even easier communication), so that the child can venture further on their own than ever before, can perform calculations, and provide a protected social conduit.
However, smartphones carry the potential for misuse, particularly in this case, and parents must be particularly vigilant to protect their children from mobile cyber-bullying.
24/7 bullying is becoming an increasingly commonplace activity in the United States, with more than 50% of children reporting that they have suffered bullying in the past – but only 25% telling a parent. Parents of special needs children – who can be especially susceptible to schoolyard bullying – must be extra vigilant.
Luckily, there are technology solutions that enable special needs children to enjoy the benefits of an android smartphone without facing the potential costs. These solutions come in the form of free, downloadable software applications that are instantly accessible to parents.
An Effective Safeguard Against Bullying
For those parents worried chiefly about cyber-bullying, MMGuardian™ represents an effective mobile safeguard. MMGuardian enables parents to choose the words or phrases that concern them, enter them into a personalized database, and then receive notifications if, and when, their child receives text messages containing those words from outside numbers. So, MMGuardian notifies parents when their child is being bullied, but, refrains from notifying parents of every single message for privacy purposes.
MMGuardian, therefore, is likely most useful to parents of older special needs children looking to grant them more freedom and privacy while still ensuring that they are protected from bullying.
For those parents looking for a more large-scale solution, Kids Place is an alternative. Kids Place sets up a kid-friendly eco-system on the phone, blocking out everything (contacts, apps, etc.) that the parent does not explicitly put into the Kids Place section of the phone. This solution is a fit for parents who want or need near complete control of their child’s smartphone experience.
Smartphones are here to stay, and they can be a productive part of your child’s life. But, un-regulated smartphones have costs, so take steps to ensure your child’s mobile safety.