Helping children (and their parents!) to enjoy their new mobile world
So you’ve decided together it’s the right time to get a phone for your young person to take out into the world. As our partners The Parenting Place say in their article, Is your child ready for a cell phone? “You can and should set some limits around cell phone use. Let them know that even if they buy the phone and pay the bills themselves… its use is still subject to your house rules.”
Reasonable rules might include:
- Phones off at mealtimes and after 9pm.
- No phones in bed.
- Consider a ‘charger basket’ where everyone’s phones go at night.
- Let them know that cell phones (and internet use) are a privilege, not a right.
- You reserve the right to review their inbox, outbox and address book.
That last point comes with a clear parenting point of view: that privileges come from trust, and trust comes from transparency. That’s why it’s vital to earn each other’s trust, ideally by setting up expectations in advance. Here’s some advice that might come in very handy:
- Set up an agreement, check it regularly. Download an example of a new-phone-in-the-family agreement from The Parenting Place: Our cell phone contract. Work through your agreement as a team, with your child. Be upfront and honest about what you all expect, and agree to stick to it.
- Help your teen or pre-teen keep themselves safe, by setting up smartphone controls, and learning about how to manage sexting and cyber bullying.
- Make sure everyone can stay in touch. Set up your family’s mobile numbers as BestMate numbers on your home phone so calls to them won’t be charged
- If they’re near driving age, remind them – frequently – that it’s a really bad idea (as well as illegal) to use their phone while driving. Encourage them to use tools like Drive Safe
- And don’t forget to have some fun! Set them up with some great apps for kids!