Your kid has been begging for a smartphone all year long, so you finally gave in and left the most-awaited gift under the tree. As ecstatic as your child will be, you’re already worrying about the new beast that’s about to enter your home: managing their downloads, views, shares, and sends.
Fortunately, you’ve got an array of opinions from technology and parenting experts to choose from, and there are plenty of recommendations that might help your child to use their new phone in a responsible way.
At the same time, apps have been developed for parents to be able to monitor their offspring’s online behavior, and even contract templates that parents and kids can sign. So here are a few tips on teaching your child responsible cellphone use, helping you set some healthy limits.
Why not a “dumbphone” instead?
Should you still be in the “debating about it” phase, a “dumbphone” could be a better option. Remember the phones that only allowed the user to talk and text? How about not leaving the entire Internet in the hands of your child? These phones are cheaper, smaller, they don’t break as easily and some still look cool.
Have your child sign a contract
In her book “iRules: What Every Tech-Healthy Family Needs to Know About Selfies, Sexting, Gaming, and Growing Up,” author Janell Burley Hofmann teaches parents about the possibility of putting some trust – and responsibility – on your kid’s shoulders by outlining the limits in a contract.
For example, you can ask to always know the passlock on their iPhone, or how late they can use it at nighttime. At the same time, you can teach them what circumstances will prompt you to take it away.
Apps to the rescue
Developers have also come to the rescue with a number of apps that help you keep tabs on your kid’s phone usage. Consider Kids Zone Parental Controls (free), Find My Kids-Footprints ($3.99 a year), or MamaBear. They might ease your mind about the way your child uses their smartphone and the Internet.
Lead by example
You can’t have high expectations from your child and not respect the limits you set for them. There’s not better teaching tool than leading by example, because healthy smartphone habits start with parents.
You already know kids are always watching and copying their parents’ behavior, so why not teach them responsible smartphone use by making a point of putting the phone away during dinner time and conversations.
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