Cellular phones are no longer just convenient tools to be able to communicate with someone. Now it is the place to socialize. With the advent of new technologies upgrading smartphones as fast as your eye can blink, you can do practically anything with your phone.
At present, smartphones are the most prominent means of technology used by teens and other children. You see teens everywhere using their phone, in malls, on the streets, at restaurants. Because phones today are no longer just for your regular calls or messages. Now you can stream movies, binge-watch tv series, play multiple games, and share photos on social media.
Cellular phones are now the foremost means of entertainment for them and it is what they choose to use and do to spend their leisure time.
As a parent, when you give a phone to your child, it would also be a good idea to introduce some rules for your child or teen to follow. Helping them manage their cell phone use will help minimize potential problematic issues later on.
It takes a fair amount of self-discipline and responsibility to manage the time spent on your phone. The average age that a child first asks or receives their own phone is between 12 and 13.
But age is not just the criteria, you also have to assess your child’s maturity, their needs, and how responsible they are.
Apart from the regular calls and messages, there is also the responsibility of managing what your child views, downloads, and shares. Social media exposure and addictive online games are just some of the things your child will be vulnerable to once you hand them with their own phone.
Parents need to take a mindful approach to digital parenting, taking on a proactive stand and nurturing your child so they will be safe and become a responsible member of the online world.
Developing reasonable rules and laying down age-appropriate guidelines is a must.
Allowing your child to have their own phone is a personal decision. There is no argument that smartphones when used properly, are wonderful tools for learning. Kids should recognize that value and parents should be there to guide them.
To help you and your child manage his cellphone, you should have rules and guidelines for them to follow. But before you hand over that phone, It is always better to have a conversation with your child beforehand. Don’t expect them to just say yes to every rule that you have written down. Have a conversation and create an agreement that is reasonable for both you and your child.
To help you along, here are some cell phone rules for kids:
Enforce a phone curfew and set a time for phone use.
Technology can be a distraction. The lure of digital entertainment is hard to resist that children spend more time on their phone than doing other activities. Set limits on how long and what time of the day your child can be on their smartphone. Give them only an allotted time for games and social media.
Remind them that schoolwork and chores should always come first. This allows them accountability to focus on their studies and their life outside the cyberworld.
Establish device-free times such as family dinners to help them establish good digital habits. It is best to have them turn off their phones at least 60 minutes before bedtime. There is scientific evidence that the blue light emitted by the screen keeps your brain awake and makes it harder to get a restful sleep.
Privacy and access.
Family values should always reflect on the rules of information sharing. Have a rule that you must always know their password. Acknowledge that even if they are responsible individuals, you want to protect them from cyberbullies.
For tweens and younger children, downloading of apps and access to social media accounts should be done with your permission. Asking for their phone from time to time and discussing what you see is a good way to guide them along.
App developers and smartphone manufacturers do offer tools that can help you set age-appropriate access with your child’s phone if you think that kind of limitations should be implemented in your family.
A parental control application may be able to regulate your child’s usage and access but your goal is to help your child learn to self-regulate and instill discipline in themselves with regards to their cell phone use and access. If you plan to go on this route, include this in your conversation with your child.
Teach your child how to scrutinize the sharing of information. House address, contact numbers, and other personal information should not be posted online. Videos, photos, and messages can be copied and shared elsewhere.
Highlight online dangers like scammers and cyberbullying. Bad language, offensive comments, and rumors are inadmissible behaviors they should not get involved in.
It is imperative that your child understands that if they receive any suspicious message, inappropriate photos, or attempts from a stranger to get in touch, they should alert you immediately.
Have honest conversations.
Explain to your child why you have these restrictions. Ask them for their ideas and opinions. Kids should understand that the rules are not done on a personal whim. When you deem your teen is mature enough and can regulate on their own, then you can revisit the rules and continue to support them.
Teach your child on cellphone etiquette. Keeping your phone in silent mode while inside the church, theaters, and movies should be discussed. Being mindful of how you use your phone in public places should be discussed.
They should not use their phones when crossing the street or walking on a busy road. Doing so will put them and other people at risk.
Respect school policies on mobile use. Some schools don’t allow the use of mobile phones while inside school premises. Teach your child there are other means to contact you if need be.
The primary purpose of your child and you for a mobile phone is to be able to communicate with one another wherever you are. Answering your parent’s calls or messages within a reasonable time should be understood by the child.
Kids will make mistakes. Sometimes their judgment may slip and they will go behind your back. For these things, you as a parent need to be prepared. They should know and expect the consequences if the rules are broken. These consequences are not punishments but more like tools to hold them accountable for their actions.
Your child should understand that he or she is not entitled to a phone, instead it is something that they should earn by displaying responsible behavior. Discuss infractions, penalties, and responsibilities. Phone responsibility also means that they should take care that their phones will not get broken or lost. Establish an understanding that a broken or lost phone will not get an instant replacement. For older kids, you can also talk about phone billing and other charges when acquiring a phone and how they will share their responsibility in that area.
Walk the talk.
As parents, you should model the example of good digital behavior. Remember: Don’t make a rule that you can’t enforce. Kids are always looking to their parents and if they see you breaking the rules, they are apt to follow suit.
Creating healthy Smartphone habits starts with parents. Studies show that our brains get a jolt of the happy chemical, dopamine, every time we use our mobile phone. Couple this with online games, social media, and other entertainment available at your fingertips, there is a tendency to develop digital addiction. This is why it is important to incorporate device-free schedules in your day to balance it out.
Start creating healthy online habits by teaching younger children to share with you what they do or see on their phones. Putting your phone away during dinner time or conversations will show that you also value time spent without your device.
Both parents should be in agreement regarding the rules and the guidelines and provide a unified front when infractions have been made. Be consistent when you implement them. Parents often criticize their teen’s behavior but they overlook their own. Maintaining healthy online habits will benefit not just your mental and physical health, but also your relationship with your children.
Remember that as parents, you are here to help and guide them. Putting a mobile phone in the responsibility of a child is like releasing him to a whole new digital world. You are training them to make good decisions so that later on they can make good decisions on their own.
Whether we like it or not, cellular phones are eye candy to our children. Innovative technologies like these will be here to stay and they are apt to improve and get better. They have become an integral part of our adult lives and it is now also becoming a part of our children. It is your responsibility to ensure that it will be a beneficial tool and a positive experience for them.