Cox Mobile Survey Warns That Location is the New Stranger Danger

Cox Mobile, Cox Communications’ mobile service available exclusively for Cox Internet customers, has released important findings from its first survey, Generation Screen: Parenting and Mobile Safety

The survey uncovered an alarming correlation between location sharing and “strangers” communicating with kids and teens through their mobile devices. 

  • 56% of parents said their children’s location sharing is turned on, making their location publicly accessible across several mobile apps. 
  • 31% said their children have been contacted by a stranger on their mobile device. 
  • Nearly one-third (28%) said the stranger referenced their child’s location.  

Despite parental vigilance, 73% of parents still say their children are savvy at hiding their online activity. One in seven parents even admitted to creating a fake social media account to keep an eye on their child’s social media activity. 

“Parenting today’s tech-savvy kids can be challenging. Many get their first phone between the ages of 10 and 14, much earlier than other generations,” said Lisa Lovallo, Cox Southern Arizona Market VP. “While providing kids with greater access to technology enables many positive connections and benefits, the reality is that real dangers can exist just one tap or swipe away. As our customers’ trusted connectivity provider, we are encouraging digital literacy, educating families on the potential risks, and promoting safer, informed use of these incredibly powerful connectivity tools.”

Cox Mobile’s findings complement similar stats from a 2023 research report conducted by Common Sense Media, a global nonprofit helping families navigate media, tech, and digital parenting, uncovering that these risks are especially prevalent among young girls. The 2023 Teens and Mental Health: How Girls Really Feel About Social Media report showed more than 50% of girls ages 11 to 15 were contacted by a stranger through social media apps.  

“Even the most safety-conscious parents can overlook features like location sharing, which in many cases is automatically turned on and can be confusing to turn off,” said Jill Murphy, editor-in-chief and head of distribution at Common Sense Media. “More intuitive app settings and parental education can help mitigate this silent risk for kids.”  

Some Good News 

A large majority of parents surveyed said they prioritize their children’s phone safety and have frequent conversations about risk prevention. 

  • 65% of parents discuss mobile device safety with their children several times a week. 
  • 75% check screen time and text messages daily to a few times a week, along with phone calls their children received (73%). 
  • 73% of parents are friends with their children on social media, and 64% interact with them through those channels. 

Other Key Findings: 

Cox Mobile’s ‘Generation Screen: Parenting and Mobile Safety’ also found:  

  • More than half of parents believe the use of social media apps elevates safety risk for kids, yet 60% say their child has them on their phone. 
  • Cyberbullying is among the top three things keeping parents up at night.  
  • Parents are most concerned about their children encountering predatory or inappropriate behavior (39%) and content (23%) on their phones.  

What Parents Can Do:

There are some simple tips that parents can put into action today.

  • Encourage your kids to pause before they post private information.
  • Create a safe space for open, honest conversations about healthy online conversations.
  • Model the online behavior you expect from your children. 

Cox traditionally provides cable, internet and landline phone services for residents and businesses in Tucson, Phoenix and has expanded to rural Arizona cities in Southern and Northern Arizona.  Over the last 18 months or so, Cox entered the mobile phone market with Cox Mobile, providing devices and service plans

As a company, Cox has a strong history of commitment to digital literacy and internet safety. Now that Cox is in the mobile device business, the company wants to help educate parents about the potential risks their children face through mobile devices while encouraging safer, informed use of the powerful connectivity devices it provides.  Cox can’t eliminate every risk and danger that exists, but the company wants to ensure access, education, and support when it comes to keeping our children and teens safer on their cell phones.

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