Children and Smartphones: Set the Rules Early!
Your student is maturing and is ready for a smartphone! Your child is so responsible there won’t be a problem with texting during family meals, downloading apps without permission, using inappropriate language in messages, streaming videos under the covers when he is supposed to be sleeping or connecting with peers in the middle of the night. Right? All of us have a tendency to become preoccupied with something new. Add peer pressure on top of that, and your student may be sucked into behavior that is out of character for her.
Removing temptation is a good strategy to prevent problems. Make sure the student understands who actually owns the phone – you do! Insist on knowing the code to unlock the phone and having access to all information on it.
- Regularly check email and text messages. If the student has changed the access code or you find inappropriate language or photos, confiscate the phone for a set amount of time. Many parents take that action to safeguard their student.
- Don’t forget to check the Trash.
- Suggest that your student let friends know that parents are checking the content on his phone.
- If apps have been downloaded without your permission, what is the consequence? How do you feel about your student being on Twitter? What about using Skype? Facebook?
- Have the student surrender the phone and other devices during homework time and before bedtime.
Model safe and courteous use of technology yourself. Don’t text at the table, while driving or while talking with others. Don’t check your email when your family or friends are talking to you. I hear many complaints from children about parents reading email when the child is trying to tell them something. Don’t be that family in the restaurant where no one is talking with each other because they are on their smartphones!