Buying a Smart Phone for Your Child: What to Watch Out For?
Having a kid with a cell phone or on social media is something new to this generation that no other one has experience with. There is no advise from our parents, no guidelines from the past, no been-there-done-that when we were kids. Now we have kids growing up with iPads, tablets, smart phones and more all at their finger tips. I’ve seen kids as young as toddlers knowing how to navigate their own way through games. But what about the concerns? Risks? How do we also protect them?
What Age Do Kids Have Their First Phone?
The average age now for a kid to have a cell phone is 10 1/2 years old. The rise in the number of kids having tablets is even younger. A lot of children inherit an older cell model when their parents upgrade to a newer phone. Not all parents remember to reset the restrictions and make them appropriate based on the age of the child. According to TigerMobiles and the Internet Keep Safe Coalition there are some basic practices parents should follow to keep their children safe.
The Internet Keep Safe Coalition–a nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping children safe online–recommends that children understand the 3 Cs of the internet:
- Contact – Do your children really know that person they’re friending on social media?
- Content – Is the content your child is watching appropriate for their age or maturity level?
- Conduct -Is your child bullying or being bullied by others while online?
Parents should also let their children know, that since they are children, that having a cell phone or social media is a privlidge. Parents should have times where phones are randomly checked. Check social media, photos, text and messaging plus any apps that might be on the phone.
Parents should discuss talking to strangers, accepting friend requests from strangers, sexting and cyberbullying. Parents should check the friends their children have on their phones too. Often people will add ‘a friend of a friend’ thinking it is safe. But it might actually be a complete stranger.
Another good idea is to enforce time limits. There are phone apps that can be downloaded that restrict social media, the download of new apps (unless parents enter a password) set time limits and even set off phones after certain times (like bedtime or when kids in in classes).
What About Teens?
Having a teen means they might thing they are entitled to their own privacy. At this age parents need to monitor phones just as much. They might not agree, but they are minors and need to be protected. Make sure you discuss who they are talking to, if they have any conflict with friends or classmates, if they are aware of others fighting on social media, drama. Any friends being picked on or harassed.
It is important to protect children at any age. Teach them well, so they grow up avoiding any of these social problems. There is so much good that can come from having the internet that we need to allow it, but keep it safe.