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Smartphones Can Turn Teenagers Into Targets

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) J.D. Miles
J.D. is an award-winning reporter who has been covering North T...
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RICHARDSON (CBSDFW.COM) - Some child safety experts are saying that one gift – probably at the top of your teenager’s Christmas list – may not be a good idea. Smartphones are a popular and expensive tech accessory for kids and teens. But they can also be a magnet for violent robberies.

Luis Sigler had his smartphone for only two months when a robber decided to take it, and put a knife to the 14-year-old Richardson Middle School student’s throat. “At first, I didn’t think they would do anything, so I refused,” Sigler said. “But they pulled out a switch knife and tried to cut me.”

The teen’s mother had no idea that a $300 phone could put her son at such high risk. “He came home crying,” said mother Jackie Sigler. “I was scared because I didn’t know what happened. Then, I was mad.”

“I would suggest parents to be very careful about the things they are buying for their children,” Jackie Sigler added.

Last week, a 19-year-old man was allegedly killed in Dallas after a group of younger teens pushed him into a moving rail train while trying to take his smartphone.

According to reports obtained from the Dallas Police Department, between January 2010 and May 2011, there have been 93 reports of juvenile robberies involving cell phones. The number was followed by 55 robberies involving bikes, jewelry or clothes, and 40 targeting cash. Reports show victims as young as 12 years old being robbed for phones valued at more than $600, with several crimes happening at schools and playgrounds.

Child safety experts said that teens put themselves at risk by flashing their smartphones too often in public, and many experts question whether kids even need these expensive cell phones. “As parents, we need to step back,” said Susan Hoff with United Way. “Think about not just that immediate making my child happy with whatever purchase we can get them, but is this safe?”

A new cell phone is on Sigler’s Christmas list. But after the last frightening encounter, his parents have convinced the teen to get a cheaper replacement. “Nothing fancy,” he said.

“I wouldn’t say a smartphone is a good choice for them to receive as a present,” Jackie Sigler said. “They can be victimized, like my son.”

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