Cell phone safety is a growing concern for parents and is something that can cause issues in school, at home, and on the playground. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, kids who text send an average of 118 messages in a typical day. That’s where a firm set of rules, and safety apps used to protect young texters, come in handy.
Peanut is 12 and has an entry level smartphone that was being phased out when we bought it last year. We made the decision to buy one as he was starting middle school and knew he’d be staying after for different activities. He’d have an easy way of contacting us if his activities were running late and we wouldn’t be stuck sitting in the parking lot for an hour waiting on him. Due the level of maturity he exhibited, we knew that a few ground rules for his phone would be set up and let him know that if he chose not to follow the rules, he’d lose his phone.
What works for us may not work for everyone else. It’s a process that has to fit each family. However, I can tell you that these rules are understood and we’ve had no push back. We run software that lets us see the search history on his phone, as well as the time he’s spent on online on his mobile. Are we being overprotective? The way I see it, while he’s mature enough to have a smartphone, he’s not mature enough to handle everything the internet can throw at him and it’s our job as parents to protect him.
My friends and I have discussed the appropriate age for a mobile phone and it really boils down to the maturity level of your child and following your gut instinct. Does a child need a phone before middle school? Unless there are serious extenuating circumstances, no. There is very little realized self-control in the tween and teen years, let alone any younger.
64% of teens with cell phones have texted in class; 25% have made or received a call during class. — Pew Survey
Apps are another hot topic regarding mobile phones. I deal with apps the easy way, I’m the only one who knows the password. If someone wants to download an app, they come to me and make a case for it. Yes, even my husband. We also have to have a prepaid credit on our phones for an app to be downloaded. Once I realized we’d spent over $1,000 in music one year I removed the link to our credit card and never connected it again. Since I manage the finances, no one argues with my logic.
With a few simple rules, kids can have the phone they want and parents can have peace of mind. Sure there may be hiccups along the way, but with firm, clear guidelines, smartphone ownership and your kids can be as simple as snapping your fingers.
Great resources for SmartPhone Safety:
Safely — One of my favorite resources for nurturing growing independence is Safely. With their family GPS Locator (available through AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile), Drive Safe (available through Sprint) and Phone Control (available through Sprint), you’re can breath a little easier knowing they are helping manage you mobile phone safety.
You can also download SafelyGo from the Google Play store free of charge for your Android phone.
AT&T Smart Controls for Wireless — AT&T Smart Limits for Wireless enables you to provide your children with the freedom and security of a mobile phone while setting sensible boundaries for its use.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Safely Go, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. Safely Go is available for free on Google Play