Buying your kid their first smartphone is the first responsible step of introducing them to the digital world. Most of the kids get their smartphones when they are 12 or 13. The average age of getting a mobile was above 16 just five years ago. The pandemic, restrictions to go out, and numerous app communications necessary for teen social life have enabled today’s pre-teens to get access to their smartphone once they finish fifth grade.
Owning a smartphone at such a young age certainly has the following benefits listed below.
• The children will not bug their parents to let them use their phone.
• They can communicate, learn and play through their smartphone. It is essential to keep them engaged and connected as many cannot go outside and connect with their friends due to the pandemic.
• The smartphones enable the parents to know where their children are, communicate with them quickly, and monitor their social life’s most essential aspects.
Like any new technology, smartphones in the hands of pre-teens have their disadvantages too.
• The kids get too involved in the smartphone, neglecting their studies, family, and other interests.
• Scrolling through social media posts and recording every aspect of their lives becomes essential, which might seriously endanger their privacy and family privacy.
• Constant advertisements and new apps make the children buy several unwanted items and download numerous paid apps making the bill mount enormously.
Parents of youngsters can avoid such embarrassing situations if they take certain precautions to teach their children about responsible smartphone usage. Here are the four crucial steps every parent should take before buying a mobile for their child.
1. Educate Themselves
The parents should educate themselves regarding the latest trends in the social media, gaming world, and the frequent apps the children will be using. Ask the children why they want a smartphone and check what games and apps they play on the mom or dad’s phone. The parents should get to know about them first.
Research parental control and install software with advanced mobile cameras, app, and browser monitoring facilities. The Bark is a free service that monitors over 24 social media accounts and sends details to parents.
Take time to check what the kids are frequently browsing, chatting about with their friends, and playing. Going through the Bark report will make it easy for you to notice anything fishy. Understanding what the kids use is the best way to decide whether to prevent them from accessing a particular app or game.
2. Educate the Kid
Educate the kids on the dangers of using a smartphone irresponsibly. Teach them about sextortion, cyberbullying, identity theft, how people target vulnerable kids, making them addicted to unwanted video viewing, etc. Tell them parental control is enabled in their smartphone, and you are still watching them.
Talk to the kid like a friend and make them feel you are approachable even if they have committed some blunder. Most kids avoid talking about things that bother them because they want to maintain a good image of themselves in the family. Tell them about your childhood mishaps and assure them it is ok to mess up sometimes.
A typical smartphone we have in the house has more features than the computers NASA had while sending a rocket to the moon. Tell the kids about such advanced technological features and make them feel lucky to have the world of information at their fingertip.
Be friendly with them and explore together about new things on the web, learning from each other. One mother proudly stated, she taught her son how to create music playlists, and now he shares all the boy band music he is crazy about with her. They joined a fan page of that Korean band together and explored gossip and celebrity news together.
Educate the kids about posting too much on social media, keeping private settings, turning off the location tracking apps, etc. Learn from them how to use specific new social media sites for your benefit. Though they are your kids, mutual give and take will make them feel like equals and treat you like a trustable partner.
3. Check Responsibility
Never buy the kid an advanced new iPhone or smartphone when they are twelve. Let them use an old mobile you have abandoned after getting the latest one. Give them a three to six months testing period. Check whether the kid is capable of keeping the smartphone safe without losing it or breaking it.
Instruct the kids not to accept friend requests on social media from older adults or strangers. Teach them to check the real identity of the person using the Nuwber online tool. This step will make the kids cautious about connecting only with people having a legitimate identity.
Also, check whether they are using the smartphone responsibly without ignoring their studies, spending too much time on the internet. Check whether they are learning something with the mobile device rather than using it only for gaming. Direct them towards using the phone more productively.
Set a timeline for the kids to do something beyond their comfort zone, like learn guitar, or improve their grades, or win a competition to get the new model mobile they want. Buy them their first own mobile, only if they have accomplished the task. It will give them a great sense of pride, and they will treat their first new mobile much more cautiously when they have worked hard to earn it.
4. Shop Together
Shop together to get the new mobile for the child. Let them feel the joy of getting what they wanted and waited so long. Since this mobile is a reward for their hard work, patience, and success rather than childish demand, they will enjoy the shopping experience.
Talk about your budget to them and ensure they choose a model wisely within the allotted money. Who knows, it could be your child’s first cue on how to choose the best product for a low price. Besides, allowing them to select the model they want will make them feel empowered.
Parents buying their kids a smartphone should educate themselves and spare time to check the parental control updates and use reliable monitoring services like Bark. Be approachable to the kids, teach them to be responsible, and make the kids work hard to earn a better model mobile. Follow a give and take policy where you both learn from each other and benefit from exploring the internet together, joyfully.