Giving your child their first phone is a big moment, and it definitely can result in both positives and negatives.
One the one hand, your child will be able to stay in touch with you and others easily, while also having access to some great learning tools and entertainment options.
On the other hand, mobile games, smartphone apps, and easy access to social media channels can all be addictive, especially for kids.
So, how do you help your child balance their time on their phone and start teaching them responsible smartphone use? Start with these 4 tips on setting some basic cell phone rules:
Kids are clumsy, there’s no doubt about it. And considering new phones can easily cost over $1000, you’ll want to teach them to be careful with their new phone, starting with a high-quality phone case.
Just as you likely chose a great case to protect your iPhone 14, you’ll want to choose a case for your child with at least the same level of protection.
With children, preventing physical damage should generally be the biggest priority. Look for a case that offers superior protection when dropped. A water-resistant case may also be a good choice.
And an added benefit of phone case shopping is that it gives your child a chance to choose a design to suit their style!
2. Set Time Limits on Usage
Whether your child loves playing flashy games with fun rewards or watching quick and quirky TikTok videos, it can be surprisingly easy for kids to suddenly discover they’ve spent hours staring at a phone screen.
That’s why setting time limits for phone use is so important. Not only will it help ensure essential tasks like homework and chores are done before play, it will help teach self-limitation as they grow older.
There are various apps and services that you can use to limit your child’s screen time on an iPhone or Android phone, both free and paid.
In general, experts recommend that children under 18 have two hours or less of screen time each day. Find the time and amount that works for you and your child, and then set up time limits accordingly.
3. Add Privacy Restrictions
While having a world of information at our fingertips certainly has a lot of advantages, unlimited access to anything and everything can also be dangerous, especially for kids.
Having proper privacy restrictions can go a long way towards making the Internet safer, however. Set up your home Internet and the smartphone’s browser to restrict any domains that aren’t age-appropriate.
If desired, you can even download apps that will let you monitor your child’s use of their phone.
And don’t forget to teach them about things like cyberbullying and how to handle it properly. Knowing about the negative effects of cyberbullying can help kids better handle the turbulent online world.
4. Set House Rules on Proper Phone Etiquette
It may be hard to believe, but studies have shown that by age 11, over half of North American children have their own mobile phone.
And that early use can lead to the development of bad phone habits. Setting some appropriate home rules for phone use can help ensure that doesn’t happen.
Some simple house rules might include leaving their phone outside their room while doing homework, and not allowing phones at the dinner table.
You also may want to consider requiring a certain amount of outdoor activity without their phone each day to encourage exercise and socialization.
No matter what age your child is when you decide to give them their first smartphone, setting appropriate cell phone rules will help ensure they’re using their phone in a positive way.
Keep rules as simple as possible, and work with your child to make sure they understand the reason for limitations you have in place.
With a little help from you, your kids will grow to be sensible and responsible users of technology.