A mother and son look at a cellphone

Tech & Media

I Taught My Kids To Use My Phone To Save Their Lives

Feb 22, 2019

I rely on my phone as a connection to my work, my life and the outside world in general. It’s such a heavy reliance — and such a powerhouse of a tool — that it has eliminated the need for a traditional landline. And I know I’m not alone in this.

I had a startling realization recently that, in the absence of a home phone line, it’s my own personal cellphone that acts as my kids’ connection to the outside world. That means if anything should ever happen to me, they must know how to use it to dial out and call help in.

For a parent who’s pretty anti-screen time for her kids, this was quite the realization to have.

Related Reading: How I’m Teaching My Child To Ride Public Transit Without Me

I don’t love the idea of my kids having access to my phone, or to the world of the internet to which my phone connects them. Still, the awareness that this is what they need in an emergency — especially given my single parent status — made me change some of my phone-related behaviours and attitudes straight away.

The awareness that [my phone] is what they need in an emergency — especially given my single-parent status — made me change some of my phone-related behaviours and attitudes straight away.

Immediately, I forewent the face ID and thumbprint recognition features my phone offers (as badass as these features are). I do enjoy them for making me feel like I am secretly Jennifer Lawrence playing myself in a movie about my life that requires elite password security at every turn. But my family’s safety ranked higher.

Next up, I sat my three girlies down and had “the talk.” The one that is underscored with the caveat that probably nothing will ever happen to me, but if it does — here’s what you need to know. I removed the six-digit password and showed each of them how to swipe up past our family-photo screensaver to find and open the phone icon to call 911.

I walked them through the process of a 911 phone call, and what to expect to be asked when they call. We reviewed essential information like what our home address is, how to speak slowly and clearly to get help the fastest way possible and, especially, to make sure the door is unlocked for when the emergency services arrive.

Related Reading: Being Anti-Tech Isn’t The Answer For Parents

This might sound intense, but when I broke it all down in a smooth, rational and very practical and hands-on way, I felt so assured knowing that they’ve each had a reasonable amount of emergency preparedness, and I knew they felt confident knowing that I trusted them to receive that information. We’ve agreed for me to leave my phone in one central place when it’s not in use, so that they always know where to find it if they need it. We also underlined, again, that my phone is only to be used by them in this kind of a probably-never-going-to-happen-but-here-we-go-just-in-case call for help situation.

Our tech seems to evolve faster than we can really keep up with, and it’s forever important to be aware how that shapes our patterns of daily life. Now stripped of its password security features, if I ever leave my phone behind at a park, store or party, whoever picks it up is going to discover a lot of selfies (a lot). But the peace of mind in knowing that my family is educated in safety is worth more than the thousand photos tucked away behind the screen.

Article Author Leisse Wilcox
Leisse Wilcox

Leisse Wilcox works in influencer marketing and brand strategy, is a mama of three and wants to spend the rest of her life laughing and listening to Motown by the lake.

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