Most young kids today know how to operate a cell phone – from unlocking the device to navigating through the apps to playing games. Most of them also prefer to watch their favorite shows and cartoons on their phone rather than on televisions.
There’s no denying that cell phones are useful and powerful tools for completing tasks and communicating with others. However, more and more kids get their first mobile device at younger ages, even if they aren’t prepared or responsible enough for one.
Is It Time To Get Your Child Their First Cell Phone?
There’s an endless debate online on when parents should give their children their first cell phone. The New York Times released an article regarding this, with the key takeaway being the longer you wait to give your children a cell phone, the better.
We firmly believe that, in general, there’s no “right” time or age to buy your kids their first phone and other devices. It all boils down to their preparedness and need to own one. After all, as we further explore and innovate the digital world, cybercrime rates tend to increase as well.
Your child should understand the virtual world before getting their first cell phone. Start with covering the bases such as data privacy, online security, and internet etiquette. Also, teach your child the dos and don’ts of phone usage and texting.
Equip them with the right knowledge and proper understanding before equipping them with a cell phone that’s their responsibility. Remember that once you let them enter the virtual world, even you can’t track down their digital footprints 24/7.
How To Choose The Right Phone For Them
Let’s say your child is all-prepped and ready to have their first phone. What’s next? Should you go on a shopping spree and just pick the coolest-looking device? Should you go for the newest model or the most popular brand? Should you buy a basic phone or a feature-packed phone? Should you let your child choose what they want?
First of all, you have to establish why you’re buying the phone. You have to specifically identify the main purpose of the device so that you know which specifications or features to look for. You don’t need to go for the latest iPhone or Android phone. If it’s your child’s first phone and they’re just 13 years old or younger, you should buy them a basic phone.
Battery life and storage capacity are important features you should consider. Most importantly, choose the phone that has several built-in safety and security features, as well as parental controls.
Utilizing Parental Controls is the Key
Educating your kids can do wonders, but you also have to play by the technical rules. Teaching them textbook facts won’t guarantee their safety. Aside from talking with them about cell phones, you have to take control.
iPhone Built-In Parental Controls
Apple has incorporated several built-in parental controls to their devices including iPhones and iPads. Enabling this is as easy as navigating to the Settings then tapping the This is My Child’s [Device] and turning on the Content & Privacy Restriction. On this page, you can enable built-in kid-friendly apps and features only, prevent App Store purchases, prevent the viewing of explicit content, restrict Siri to initiate a web search, and restrict access to the Game Center. You can set a passcode to these settings so that your kids won’t be able to alter them.
Android Device Built-In Parental Controls
Android devices also offer parental controls just like on iPhones. Some brands allow you to create or add another user to the device, like a kid’s profile and customize it. Others utilize Google to ensure that the device is child-friendly. Samsung, for instance, allows parents to monitor their kids’ devices through Google Family Link. By simply creating a Google account for you and your kids, you can remotely monitor and control their phones, including screen time, apps/site access, and content filter. If you decided to give your kids Google Pixel phones, you can easily enable the built-in parental controls by turning it on under the Google Play Settings Page.
Phone Monitoring Apps
If you want zero loopholes on your child’s phone, then you might as well install reliable third-party monitoring software. This app can extract data from the target device and feed it directly to your device or online account as-is. By getting real-time data on your kid’s phone activities, you can immediately address any inappropriate behaviors. You can view their texts, call history, contacts, social media media, GPS location, and much more.
Whatever your stand is on the debate on when parents must give their children their first phones, remember that you have the biggest role to play. You’re probably failing your kids if you buy them their first devices just because their friends already have theirs, not considering their level of maturity. Be the responsible adult your child needs you to be.
- Children and Cell Phones: Weighing the Risks and Benefits
- Parental Controls for Smartphones and the Internet
- An Age-By-Age Guide To Kids and Smartphones
- Family Digital Literacy Practices and Children’s Mobile Phone Use
- How To Use Cell Phone Monitoring Software On Your Teenagers Mobile Device
- How to Use the Parental Controls on a Smartphone
- Tips For Creating A Cell Phone Contract For Your Kids