What is a Zombie Phone? And how can it hurt your child?

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A zombie phone is an old cell phone that doesn’t have an activated data or wireless plan

Giving your kid a zombie phone allows your kids to talk to almost everyone online as it opens up the most dangerous features of the phone.

  • Usually set aside as an extra phone for the parents
  • Parents typically give zombie phones to their teens as their first cell phone as a wifi-only device (no phone number or data plan)
  • These phones “come alive” again when they are charged and connected to a wifi signal in your house
  • Giving your kid a zombie phone (wifi device) allows your kids to talk to almost everyone online as it opens up the most dangerous features of the phone

Teen cell phone statistics

22% of young people admit to using mobile devices to hide their online behavior from their parents.

  • 91% of teenagers, ages 13 to 17, access the internet on cell phones, tablets, and other mobile devices
  • 22% of young people admit to using mobile devices to hide their online behavior from their parents

Source: Growing Wireless

Why should parents care?

Students can still easily text, use social media, access the internet, and video chat with strangers from their zombie phone.

  • Zombie phones can create a false sense of security but they can do everything a normal phone can do
  • Without a data or wireless plan, students can still easily text, use social media, access the internet, use Snapchat, Instagram and video chat with strangers from their phone
  • Apps like Kik Messenger, Instagram, Jott, Facebook, and more make it easy for your teen to use their cell phone – even if it’s a wifi-only device
  • Some teens may feel like they can hide their cell phone activity if their actions aren’t showing up on a phone bill
  • I would argue that a zombie phone is actually MORE dangerous for your kid since, without a phone number, you can’t call your child to see what they are doing
  • You are turning on all of the worst features and none of the good ones (mobile data plan and phone number to help out in an emergency)

What can parents do?

Teach your teens to have a purpose for their cell phone activities and not to use it as a pass time.

  • Discuss the safety concerns and risks of having a cell phone with your children before giving them access to one
  • Teach your teens to have a purpose for their cell phone activities and not to use it as a pass time
  • Review our Parent App Guide and ensure that your children don’t have access to the apps in our red zone
  • Buy one of our social media safety packages to train your family or school in digital safety
  • If you decide to give your teen a zombie phone:
    • Set up a cell phone contract with your kids to explain behavior boundaries
    • Monitor the phone every day (or at least every week)
    • Know the passcode to the phone at all times
    • Get the phone unlocked at a local store and sign up for an affordable H20 Wireless account
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Social Media Bootcamp for Parents & Teens 450
Digital Citizenship Conference for Educators 450
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