As a mom, my kids safety come first. So no wonder I freak out whenever I get an AMBER alert, indicating a child is missing in the area. Nowadays, it’s not just the flashing lights at the side of the road, but a scary alarm on your smartphone. AMBER alert isn’t the only emergency alert you may receive on your phone. The Wireless Emergency Alerts system (WEA) is an essential part of America’s emergency preparedness. Since its launch in 2012, the WEA system have been used many times to warn the public about dangerous weather i.e floods and tornadoes, missing children, and other critical situations — all through alerts on cell phones.
Is this a blessing or a curse?
At the same time, on the other side of town, my kids phones buzzed too. As school ended and they opened their phones, my 12 year old daughter sent me a message asking what is it.
Using the same form of communication (no, kids don’t use the phone to talk) I sent her a message back telling her to relax and not to worry, “I will explain when we get home”.
Curiosity mixed with access to information, you can imagine what happened next. Correct! She googled and found out herself, before I got a chance to explain.
Tonight during dinner I will need to bring this up again and make sure she feels safe and secure. “No, no one is going to kidnap you.”, “No, our town is safe.”, “We love you and we will always keep you safe.”.
As parents, getting an AMBER alert obviously make us miss a beat. However, we all know how important that is to get the message to the public so we can all help. Therefore, once we get it, assuming we can’t help, we take a deep breath and move on. But a child?! A child does not need to get that message. The may not move on.
The average age of a child getting a smartphone is 10.3 years old, some parents give their children phones as early as 7 years old. Can you imagine a 7 years old getting that message!?! I’m all for not giving kids phones so early, but this is not the point here. The point is that AMBER alerts should not be sent to kids. Unfortunately our children level of anxiety is skyrocketing with an average of one school shooting every week this year (2018). Sending them additional alarming messages only raise their level of anxiety, not calming them down and ensuring their safety.
Let’s find a way to make sure they remain kids and keep their calmness. To start, lets eliminate those alerts from their phones.
There is a way for you to turn off those notification. If you’d like to know how to do it, here is a good reference for both iOS and Android devices.
Please help me keep our kids mentally and physically safe.
Originally published at medium.com