When you finally decided to give your child their first cell phone, it can be overwhelming. With all the horror stories and warnings about cell phones, giving one to your child can be intimidating. There are certain behaviors and things to check when giving them their first phone. It can be very overwhelming considering children are now the digital natives versus their parents who are digital immigrants. By following our tips below, you will be able to feel secure when it comes to your child and their new cell phone.
Check the Parental Controls
First and foremost, parental controls are your advantage when it comes to cell phone use. When a child is first exploring the world around them, their parents are there to guide them and teach them the safest route. The same can be said for their first cell phone. Parental controls on their cell phones are a parent’s way to let them explore safely.
Be honest and open with your child about the controls you are putting on the phone. Looking for certain apps and tools that monitor their activity are also important. Some cell phones also have screen time trackers and can automatically close the app if your child has used all of their screen time for the day. There are also GPS tracking apps built in some smartphones. For an iPhone, using the built in tracker called Find Friends, you can easily track exactly where your child is at any given time.
Check How They Handle Responsibility
What this means is watch how your child handles their chores, homework, and any other responsibility they have. Are they always having to be reminded to load the dishwasher or have you gotten calls from their teachers about missed assignments? Are they distracted easily? If you believe your child needs to earn the cell phone, use it as leverage to get them to do their chores and finish up homework. Sit down and make a list of the goals you want them to hit before any cell phone can be built. Once they’ve proved themselves, it might be time to consider getting them a cell phone.
Check In With Their Mental Health
Having a cell phone can trigger a lot of mental and emotional strain so checking in with your child’s mental health is very important. There are some things you can look for and ask yourself when it comes to your child’s emotional standing.
- Does your child get easily frustrated by simple tasks?
- Do they consider others’ feelings when they say and do things?
- Do they show self-restraint in their daily activities?
- Does it take them awhile to fall asleep?
- Do they keep you up to date with school and their friends?
- Do they share their struggles and failures with you?
Being able to truthfully answer these questions can determine whether or not your child should have a cell phone.
Check In With Yourself
Setting a good example for your child is so important. They look to you for guidance and lessons. They also mimic you and the things you do. If they constantly see you on your cell phone, computer, and tablet, they think its ok to also be on their technology too. If you text and drive, your child will see this and think its ok to text and drive too. If you answer calls you don’t know that could potentially be a scam, your child will also pick up calls they don’t know either because they see you do it too.
If you abuse your cell phone use than your child will too. Respecting others via social media is also important. Getting into a Facebook argument over minimal things with your neighbor and venting about it might send the wrong signals to your child. Your child might look at that as it being ok to engage in fights on the internet.
Another thing to consider is letting your kids in on how much the cell phone bill is and how data works. There are plans with unlimited data but encouraging your child to learn what that means is important. Show them how to track their own use and challenge themselves to keep it below a certain amount.
With all these things taken into account, at the end of the day you know your child the best. You know when to give them a cell phone and when to give them that responsibility. Keep in mind they are still learning, growing, and changing and a cell phone can help and also hinder that.