When you decide to get your child a cell Phone suddenly the whole world is right there in their hands – the good, the bad and the ugly. Parents shouldn’t make the decision to get their kid a cell lightly. It’s a huge life-changing decision and once you have crossed the line you can never cross back to the other side. In this article we’ll look at five things to know before getting your child a cell phone.
Is Your Kid Ready for a Cell Phone?
This is a simple enough question – are your children ready to have a smartphone? Look at if they are responsible enough to take care of a smartphone. If you decide your kid is responsible, the next thing you need to think about whether they can handle a device – both emotionally and cognitively – that automatically connects them to the world. You keep in mind that kids don’t fully understand the ramifications of everything they post as you consider the above. Kids don’t have the thinking capacity quite yet to really determine if something is a good or bad idea to share. They are more likely to mistakes – and that is ok, it’s what they are supposed to do. But remember that once something is posted on the internet, it’s pretty much there to stay.
Cyber Safety and Etiquette Training
The next step if you really think your child is ready for a phone is to make sure they have some training in cyber safety and etiquette. You need to teach them about things such as bullying, how what they post lasts and online stranger danger. If you don’t know where to start you can check out learning tools on sites such as CyberWise.org. CyberWise.org offers a range of lessons on digital safety and online citizenship.
Use a Family Contract
A family cell phone contract spells out how the phone is to be used. Your contract can include:
- Wording that spells out that the phone belongs to the parents
- Your complete access to all passwords related to the phone and apps on the phone
- Hours the phone can be used
- Centralized charging area in a common area
You can find lots of contract templates online, but the key is customizing it for your family\
Use Parental Control Apps
Make sure that you use technology available to you keep track of the technology and its use that you hand over to your children. There are lots of apps you can get. Some apps allow parents to track everything their kids are doing on their phones. Still more give parental alerts if high-risk words are used in texts or social media platforms. While some parents may worry about privacy – this is misguided. These apps are about making sure things like bullying and sexting don’t happen and that you protect your child from suicide.
Don’t Use the Phone in Consequences
If your kids break the family rules about the phone – and they will – or use their phone in a concerning way, the last thing you want to do is punish them by taking the phone away. While you might think it’s a logical consequence for breaking the rules this will probably cause your kids to shut down and be less likely to open up about issues they are experiencing online. You want your kids to be comfortable coming to you with any issues like sexing or bullying that they are getting exposed to. Always keep an open dialog with your kids about their phone use. You need to have their back even if you are uncomfortable.
Giving Your Child A Cell Phone
While you may never feel like your child will never be ready for a phone, you will need to relent and give them one eventually. Cell phones is part of modern life there is no getting away from them. However, with some foreknowledge and boundaries you can teach your children the safe and effective use of these devices.
If you haven’t already, you might want to check out our article “Should I Use Tinder to Find Love”
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