Does technology make it challenging for children to dial 911? -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Special Report: Does technology make it challenging for children to dial 911?

Jim Vaught, the Dougherty EMA Deputy Director Jim Vaught, the Dougherty EMA Deputy Director
Emily Ingram and three of her children Emily Ingram and three of her children

Dialing 911 has changed, along with the technology. Now many of us rely on smart phones, instead of landlines. But do children know how to operate a smart phone to call for help in case of an emergency?

"911, what's your emergency?"

The three numbers that can save your life.  We teach our children to dial them.

"It's as soon as they can possibly comprehend it," said Jim Vaught, the Dougherty EMA Deputy Director.

But can our children use our smart phones?

"I think it's definitely something to think about. Because given we don't even have a landline so if something happens they wouldn't know how to unlock the phone," said Emily Ingram.  Many of us know Emily Ingram as a professional bodybuilder, but she's also a mother of four.

Her youngest, Olive, who's 5 and Tadhg, who's 7, knew exactly how to unlock the iPhone and dial 911. The two learned from watching their parents and older siblings.

"I think she learned from watching them," said Tadhg.

"Indie, my 10 year-old taught Tadhg how to flip it over to find the emergency because I hadn't thought about it," said Ingram.

Aujua Lowe, has a two year old son, who learned how to use her phone by watching her. She says he began unlocking her phone to play games when he was just one year-old.

"He already knew how to swipe the phone and unlock it so. Yeah, he can get to the keypad and dial 911," said Lowe. 

Using a smart phone instead of a landline is certainly different to the older generations that have experienced the change. But many children have easily adapted to the new technology.  Tadhg says he feels more comfortable with a cell phone because to him, it's easier to use.

Jim Vaught, the Emergency Management Deputy Director, says while they haven't had any reports of children not being able to call 911 because they couldn't unlock a smart phone, it's a good time to prepare.

"More and more people have moved away from using the landlines and strictly only have a cell phone. So it is something, it's new and we just haven't had any reports as of yet, but that doesn't mean that it's not possible that we could experience a problem because of new technology," said Vaught.

Cell phone companies have instructions on their website. They recommend going through all the steps with your children on how to unlock your phone, opening the keypad and dialing the number. While emergencies are unexpected, preparing and planning could be the difference between life and death.

It's also important to teach your child how to communicate with a dispatcher.  For tips on that and more information about teaching your little one how to use a cell phone, click on one of the links below.



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