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In today’s interconnected day and age, cell phones are a necessity. While over 6.8 billion people already have cell phones across the globe, parents are finding cellular devices more of a requirement every day to keep up with their kids. From sharing photos on social media, to keeping in touch with family members and long distance friends, or just simply having a way to stay in touch with their children, mobile devices are a staple to life as we know it.
App stores are filled with tools that can make parenting easier in addition to kid-friendly educational apps that can keep children occupied learning for hours. But, what happens on that fateful day when playing with mommy or daddy’s cell phone isn’t enough for your child? With 20% of 3rd graders and 78% of teens in middle school now having cell phones, many parents are wondering just that.
As one of the hottest topics on parenting websites, cell phones are a very controversial topic. While some parents feel a child should get their first phone in elementary school, others feel later is better. Both sides of this argument are very vocal, some expressing concerns about privacy, bullying, cell phone addiction, and social media usage among other things.
However, a majority of parents, 68% to be specific, feel that cell phone usage is a positive experience for children of an appropriate age. Parents on this side of the fence realize that the choice to give a child a cell phone is an extremely personal one for each and every family, but also know that cell phones can also promote safety and learning. Mobile devices can be used as methods of emergency contact, benefit children socially, and even help them get organized academically.
While deciding when to give your child a cell phone is ultimately up to you, the parent, keeping your child safe should never be an issue. Here are 4 tips to help promote cell phone safety if you are considering giving your child their own phone, or if your child already has one.
- Take time to discuss cell phones with your child before hand. Sit your child down and have an open discussion about your thoughts on cell phones, any rules you would like them to follow, and how you would like your child to use their phone before hand to avoid confusion. Don’t forget to mention things like cyberbullying and cell phone etiquette. You can use this time to instill responsibility and truly involve your child in the conversation.
- Keep it simple. If you’re giving your child their first cell phone earlier than their peers, many parents choose a basic phone or phones specifically created for children. This can teach kids how to use a basic mobile device safely, before moving on to the world of smartphones.
- Consider parental controls. While this may not be ideal for every parenting style, parental controls are the only surefire and fool proof way to make sure your child doesn’t have access to content that is not age appropriate. Whether checking in on who is calling and texting your child is your thing, or simply restricting access to certain websites, apps, or music works better for your family, controls can keep kids safe and give you peace of mind.
- When in doubt, check it out. If someone is contacting your child via the phone, email, social media, or text and you don’t know who it is, take time to investigate. You can easily verify phone numbers and identities online with phone directories and people search engines. Looking into who is talking to your child can not only keep your child safe but can promote accountability too.