Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Is It Time Your Child Had A Phone Of Their Own?

What was once a technological marvel and novelty has become all-too-common and is a question that
all parents have to face as their kids grow older. The smartphone (or tablet, as it may be) is a rite of
passage for many younger people, representing freedom and a certain level of independence. Rather
than looking at what may or may not be the right age to give them a phone, as that’s purely subjective,
we’re going to look at the signs they’re ready for that and what you can do to ensure they use it safely.

Do they need it or just want it?
The utility of the phone changes as we grow older and as our social circle evolves. There’s no doubt
that adolescents and teenagers may want to use it to stay in contact with their friends and organize
themselves socially. However, for those who are just approaching or just past their tenth year, they
might be more focused on the games they play on the phone. If it’s the mobile gaming platform they’re
most used to, that may be their primary answer for wanting one. If that’s the case, maybe you should
look at handheld gaming devices that might better fit that needs, without all the other implications of
owning a phone.
Will it disrupt them or help them?
Phones can be incredibly useful, in no small part thanks to the apps that can make it easier to
manage your time, find information, and stay up to date on all kinds of things. However, phones can
also be a major distraction, making it harder for them to accomplish what they want to in school and
other pursuits of theirs. By taking the time to instill the right habits in your kids, such as knowing when
to take the time to turn off the screen and focus on the real world, you can reduce the risk of falling
into the distraction vortex that is the online world. If you hand them a piece of connected digital
technology without that preparation, it’s easier to lose them to it.

Can you ensure they use it safely?
A parent’s questions about the privacy of what their kids do is a tricky one. While you want them to
have some measure of independence and some ability to learn from their mistakes, you want to
protect them from what is potentially harmful or even dangerous. When it comes to the online world,
there are several serious risks to consider, from who they’re communicating with to what sites they’re
visiting. You can visit this website to see an example of apps that can help you monitor your kid’s
phone activity. For now, their safety comes above their privacy, at least until they’re old enough to
handle the digital world a little more responsibly.
Can they use it sensibly?
If you have the right tools for parental control, gating off content they shouldn’t be accessing, and
activity monitoring, ensuring that they’re being safe, then you might be able to trust them to own a
phone. To ensure they can be entrusted to use it without your regulatory presence always hovering
over them, however, you need to teach them to be more responsible in how they use it. This doesn’t
just incorporate one tip, but thankfully there are kid-friendly lessons for internet use that can help you
explore a range of topics in depth. This includes things like phishing scams, untrustworthy websites,
caution when communicating with people on the internet, and more. Your kid may eventually know
more about cyber-security than you, but for now you need to introduce them to concepts that might
otherwise catch them off-guard.

Can you agree on some rules of use?
Whether you think they are ready or not, a phone isn’t just something to give, it’s something they have
to agree to use. With the right rules in place, you can make sure they’re agreeing to practice
responsibility. This site has a good example of a phone-use contract for kids, including clauses on
not just who they use it to contact, but how they communicate, ensure their own safety and more.
The penalty for breaking the contract can be the immediate and permanent confiscation of the phone,
to make sure they take it seriously.
Hopefully, the tips above help you make up your mind on whether or not it’s time to give your kid a
phone and what you can do to ensure they use it responsibly. There’s no definitive right or wrong
answer, it’s your responsibility as a parent to make that final decision.

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