Did a smartphone top your child’s wish list this year? Whether they received one as a gift, or just begged for the latest iPhone, Samsung, or other hot smartphone, you know that cell phones aren’t mere phones anymore. They are smart, costly devices that allow your children to connect with others, download online apps, post pictures, chat online, and play games with people all around the world. As a parent, this can be a scary thought, and deciding when your child is ready to have a smartphone can be difficult. Read through these things to know before you buy or set up your child’s smartphone.
Are They Ready?
A phone is much more than a toy to play games on, so the first few questions you should ask yourself are: Do you believe your child is responsible enough to have one? Are they old enough to understand the financial costs of a phone? And are they mature enough to face the consequences if they break it or use it inappropriately?
A smartphone has the capacity to connect your children to the outside world, so you should feel 100% confident that they fully understand the dangers and risks associated with bullying, posting and sharing pictures, and talking to strangers online before you equip them with a phone.
Training Is Crucial
You wouldn’t take your kids to a pool without teaching them how to swim. The same goes for a cell phone. If you believe your child is ready to have their own smartphone, you need to train them how to use it properly. This goes for online safety, socially responsible texts and pictures, and general use and care of their phone. Many schools and organizations have excellent free resources on cellphone safety and usage, and much is available online.
Create Open Communication
As important as it is to teach them about the risks of inappropriate smartphone usage, you also need to open the communication gates with your child. Many kids hide things like sexting or bullying because they believe they will get themselves or others into trouble. Work to create an environment where they’re comfortable talking to you about any potential issues.
Install Parental Control Apps
Another important thing to know before your child uses a cellphone is that there are many parental control apps out there for smartphones these days. If your kids are under 16 years of age, control apps are your best bet at limiting inappropriate behaviour. Depending on how much information you would like to be able to control or see, there are apps available that allow you to track everything, including texts and location, the ability to monitor and block apps, as well as the option to set time limits and turn the phone off remotely.
Once the phone is ready for use, don’t forget to create some basics rules that surround your child’s smartphone operation. Some popular rules to put in place include: they are required to answer your phone calls; the GPS tracking will remain on at all times; no phone time until after their homework, chores or other activities are done; etc. Consider implementing a ‘phone curfew’ for whenever you stipulate and a requirement to have their passwords to the phone and their apps.
You will probably apply consequences if they break your rules regarding their smartphone, but remember that kids are kids, and, like adults, they may slip up from time to time, including drops and breaks. So maybe getting them a refurbished phone for their first phone is a better idea than a brand new one. It will save you money and still give your child an updated device that is reliable, warrantied and fully certified to work like it’s brand new.
When you feel that it’s the right time to let your child have a smartphone or if they received one as a gift this year, drop into any of our locations and talk to our experts at Mobile Klinik. We can walk you through the features of any device. If you’re buying a phone, we also have a vast selection of certified pre-owned phones, including those that are perfect for your child’s first mobile device.