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Sponsored: Tips For Teaching Kids Not To Text and Drive

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for a campaign with AT&T.

 

 For today’s teens, texting is their natural and persistent form of communication. I realized just how deeply integrated texting is to my older son’s communication when he went to a friend’s birthday party at age 12. The kid’s mom had pre-arranged a great scavenger hunt in the back yard, the excited boys searched for hidden toys in silence, texting each other as they discovered treasure.
I soon realized that I needed to not only teach my teen texting etiquette and safety rules but also role model appropriate technology use. As my son approaches the age of driving I decided that one of the most important places to demonstrate texting safety is in the car. Especially when recent studies show that 75% of teens say texting and driving is “common” among their friends.  Here are some of my tips for texting safety, please share yours!

1. Create A Routine: I create a routine for what I do with my phone in the car and I share it with my teen. For example, there are some days where I hand my phone to my teen and he places it somewhere out of my reach.. I always say “look where my phone is – out of my reach while driving!”. Or there are some days where I turn on the AT&T Drive Mode and show my teen that I have it set so I can’t text until I turn drive mode off. ”When the app is enabled and the vehicle is moving 25 mph, the app automatically sends a customizable auto-reply message to incoming texts*, letting your friends know you’re behind the wheel and will reply when it’s safe.”

2. Show Them The Dangers of Texting And Driving:  My son not only watches YouTube videos but also films and edit videos. So I decided that another step in his education would be to watch some of the videos from the “It Can Wait” Campaign that show the dangers of texting and driving. Seeing those stories on video really helped him visualize why texting while driving is 100% not acceptable.

3. Simulate The Dangers of Texting and Driving: The “It Can Wait” campaign has a game simulator that allows you to experience the dangers and consequences of texting and driving.  I had my son try the simulator at home and he was surprised because he thought (like many other teens) that he could text while also concentrating on all the various visual cues required to successfully drive.

How do you teach your kids not to text and drive? I am looking for new creative ways to add to my list!

 

Ford’s “Sync” Voice-Activated Calling and MyKey™ Auto Parental Controls

To provide some background for my interest in auto technologies : My husband and I
need to replace our 10 year old wagon with a new car. We are looking at
the Ford Hybrids, other Hybrids and dreaming of buying an electric car.
So this makes me even more interested to learn about the new auto
technologies available to help us in our decision process.

SYNC:

While at CES, I had the chance to have a demo of the Ford and Microsoft partnership created "Sync" that provides voice-activated, hands-free calling. Here is a link over to the Ford website with more details :

"Sync is a voice-activated, hands-free, in-car communications and entertainment system that fully integrates your Bluetooth®-enabled mobile phone and digital music player".

It will be offered on Ford, Lincoln and Mercury cars , but can not be purchased after market:

"Sync will debut in fall 2007* on twelve 2008-model Ford, Lincoln and
Mercury models: Edge, Explorer, Five Hundred, Focus, Freestyle, Fusion,
Milan, MKX, MKZ, Montego, Mountaineer and Sport-Trac. Additional
Sync-equipped vehicles will be rolled out as quickly as possible
.".

The demo at CES was seamless, you get in the car with your cellphone – turn on the car – and Sync takes over all the functionality from your cellphone to provide a voice activated hand free experience. Functionality includes voice dialing from the phone's address book, navigation, weather and finding local businesses like restaurants all from a small screen located on the dashboard. To use Sync, the drive needs to have a cellphone in the car, that acts as the host to the technology. The IEEE Spectrum tech talk blog shared their opinion on some of the challenges, but I think this is a step in the right direction for integration of this type of functionality in cars instead of having to install separate gadgets or attach something like a hand sized GPS (that can be stolen) to a dashboard.

Here is the video demonstration of Ford Sync:

MyKey™ :

Watching the video is best way to understand how MyKey™ works.

Here are the details from the Ford Website on MyKey™ :

"a new technology that allows parents to limit the vehicle’s top
speed and audio volume – next year as standard equipment on the 2010
Ford Focus and many other Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models.

MyKey, another affordable innovation from the company that
introduced SYNC™, also encourages safety-belt usage, provides earlier
low-fuel warnings and can be programmed to sound chimes at 45, 55 and
65 miles per hour".

I joined a conference call for the DigiKnows Episode #1 An Insider’s Look at Ford MyKey™ to learn more about that technology. Here is the video from the live UStream discussion:


The UStream live discussion covered questions like "Would kids want big brother watching"? The answer was that if the kids are given the privilege of driving – that they would be ok with having auto limits set. Other good questions were on monitoring/reports – and the response is that the designers thought it was to big brother-ish so that is not currently available. Knowing that my 10 year old has already figured out how to de-install programs and tried to "de-install" the internet filtering controls on our computer – I would like to see some type of monitoring available.  I know that teens will not be happy about the volume controls, but there is plenty of information about how listening to loud music for a period of time can lead to hearing loss. That may be an "uncool" message but it is a valid issue.

Here are some of the links for more information:

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