6 Ways You Can Help Your Child Become a Better Smartphone User
Thinking of giving your child a smartphone? You’re not alone. Statistics suggest 20 percent of third graders have phones and by the time kids get to middle school, 83 percent have them. The simple reality is that if your child doesn’t have a phone, you’re probably in the minority. Phone ownership, though, isn’t that simple. After all, a smartphone means internet access all of the time, a chance to text friends all of the time, and the opportunity to be constantly connected to games and apps of all kinds on an ongoing basis. These tips can help you manage.
- Start with Rules. From the outset, your child has to know that a phone isn’t a toy, it’s a tool. There are lots of ways to use it, but they can’t let it overtake their lives. Be sure that your child knows how to use it and understands your rules from day one.
- Limiting Usage Is a Must. Your child doesn’t need to constantly check his or her phone. Status updates don’t have to get shared every single minute. Be sure you define usage limits very carefully. Let your child know who he or she can call, how many minutes can be used on a monthly basis, who can be texted, how many texts can be sent, and what’s off limits on the phone (think downloading apps, content, etc.). You may also want to set a bedtime for the phone and let him or her know where it can and cannot be taken (school, church, after school activities, etc.).
- Privacy Still Matters. Help your child understand just how valuable his or her privacy actually is. Teach those limits, how to turn on privacy features, and how to block comments when necessary. Remind your child, though, that they can be as private as they want outside of their interactions with you. You still get to see absolutely everything any time you want.
- The Number of Friends Defines a Person? Many kids will cite their social media stats as a measure of popularity – hundreds of friends, lots of text messages, the number of people online at the same time. Help your child understand that lists on a social media site don’t actually mean anything. True friendship is very different.
- Offer a Healthy Dose of Etiquette. A huge draw to social media, texting, and the world of electronic communication as a whole is that it doesn’t come with the same social norms traditional communication does. Teach your kids a bit of internet etiquette. Help them understand what defines bullying, what is rude, and how to decide what to post and what to avoid.
- Quality Time With Real People Is Still Important. Sitting down to a meal together only to pull out a smartphone and ignore everything that’s said just doesn’t work. Instead, teach your child that it’s rude to be on the phone when real people who might want to interact are present.