Cell Phone Situational Awareness

This is something I ensure my daughters put into practice. I don't want them to become a crime statistic, so applying situational awareness (or awareness of self) is a small price to pay for their safety. I hope it finds  benefit for you and your kids as well. :)

The primary purpose of a cell phone is to communicate with another person(s). Additionally, various entertainment features have been added to enhance the versatility and marketing appeal of the device. Although fun and useful, there are certain actions you should never let go by the wayside. Performing these actions on a daily basis will ingrain “muscle memory,” that is, performing an action without thinking about it or feeling paranoid:
  • Looking Around You: Don’t “narrow focus in on your cell phone. Hold it out just enough for you to make slight periodical glances over the top/sides of your cell phone. Just use your eyes, without turning your head. See who’s behind you, without turning around; tilt your cell phone screen to view the reflection and see who’s behind you.
  • Screen Dim: Dim your screen and ensure no one is standing behind you and to the side, where he/she can read your texts. Don’t take this for granted.
  • Private Conversations: Keep your conversations personal. Don’t let others hear what you are talking about. Locate yourself somewhere away from others, so they can’t eavesdrop.
  • Cell Phone Security: Apply a screen-lock on your cell phone. This usually can be accomplished by accessing your settings menu. This way, if you happen to leave your phone out (away from your grasp), it’ll lock itself so no one else can access your personal information such as photos, texts, emails, etc.
  • Taking Photos and Videos: Most phones today have some sort of a camera embedded within its shell. This is one of the most useful features on cell phones today (not forgetting the best feature, which is to make a call on the phone itself). It has been said, a picture is worth a thousand words. We say a picture can be a deterrent as well as a documenting record. If a stranger is looking at you, snap his/her picture and let your action be known. More than likely, he/she will leave your presence because you now have their face on record. Quite cool? Yes! Better yet, take a short video clip with audio!  If you need to record a stranger looking at you and you feel uncomfortable with taking a picture of him/her and have him/her notice, apply this technique: Enable your video record button, put your phone up to your ear and pretend you are on the phone (listening to a message). Slightly turn and position your camera lens at the stranger. He/she will never know they're on camera. (Ensure your video flash and record “click-sound” is turned off.)
  • Pre-Recorded Audio Files: Keep a pre-recorded audio file on your phone. If you are a female, this can be handy if you are near a male stranger that creeping you out or with another guy who you just want to leave you alone (say on a date). Covertly, play the file with loud volume so they can hear slightly that you are talking with another male. Ensuring the pre-recorded file is keeping up a conversation with you and mentioning he is two minutes away and will pick you up. Most “weirdo’s,” will more than likely move on and leave you alone.
  • Ringtones For iPhone/Ringtones For Android: Applying your personal ringtone is fun but can make you stand out. It’s wiser to apply a simple “stock” ringer that matches everyone else. Better yet, keep your phone on vibrate. After all, your phone is meant to notify you and only you, that you have an incoming call.
  • Bluetooth Security: The wireless Bluetooth feature on a cell phone is great for hands-free functions, which enhances safety (driving for instance), but beware that many cell phones do not have preventative features to prevent other “Bluetooth users” from accessing your phone’s data and/or conversations. There have been many instances where people have had their phones hacked, while stopped at a street light in their vehicle and the person next to them in their vehicle is pulling private information onto their phone (texts, photos, emails, etc.). Ensure your phone has an access code feature for your Bluetooth.
  • Password Protect: Many folks keep passwords to their bank accounts, website logins, etc. on the notepad feature of their cell phone. A big negative here! Always, use a strong password generator to generate a strong password (you can download many free apps that do this) . If for whatever reason a person gets past your locked phone (or if you forget to lock it), they’ll have to deal with the password keeper code to view the contents therein.
  • Owner Information: Due to the fact that your phone is always locked (as we recommend), if your phone becomes lost, how can a good citizen with impeccable morals notify you that they have your phone? Apply a sticker of some sort to the back of your phone with a phone number (possibly another cell phone or your home number), where the good citizen can reach you. 
Never put your home mailing address and never have the person who found your phone meet you at your place of residence. Pick a public location, such as a Starbucks (they’re everywhere), for both of you to meet and reclaim your phone. Remember, you don’t know this person. Talk while looking around. Always look around your environment and exercise your Situational-Awareness. There’s no reason for you to be looking down at the ground, browsing through a magazine, or any other “narrow-focused” gesture. Set your demeanor of, “I’m aware of my surroundings.” Make it “muscle memory.”