Preparing children for smartphone ownership this Christmas
On top of children's wish list is a smartphone for Christmas. But should your child get one?
It’s that time of year again when everyone’s thoughts turn to the holidays, traditions, and gift giving. With the first sign of decorated trees and the man in the big red suit, parents are typically inundated with pleas for gifts and wish lists from their children. At the top of that list for a majority of the preteen and teen crowd: smartphones.
The lure of the glowing screen that connects you to the Internet and social media with a swipe of a finger is hard to resist. It’s easy to see the draw smartphones have over our children, but before you race out and purchase the newest model it is important to think this gift through.
These types of devices have been known for exposing children to cyberbullying, sexting, online predators, and more. Even though, these devices are highly desired, it doesn’t mean a child is necessarily ready for this level of responsibility.
It’s no Christmas secret that our children use “smart” devices on a regular basis. Within the last few years social media has crept into our everyday lives. Data shows that 75 percent of our children younger than the age of 8 have access to this technology and 78 percent of teens enjoy the perks of cell phone ownership.
While our children use these wireless devices daily, it doesn’t guarantee they are mature enough to handle unlimited access with their own devices. If your son or daughter is wishing to find a smartphone under the tree this year, ask yourself the following four questions before agreeing to give your child a smartphone for Christmas:
- Is my child responsible with his possessions?
- Does my son or daughter show sound judgment when dealing with peers or conflicts?
- Can he or she grasp the concept of the Internet’s permanence?
- Have you had a talk regarding social media etiquette?
If “yes” was the answer to these questions, then your child might be ready to handle receiving a smartphone this year.
Allowing a child to have his own smartphone can be scary, but you can help him become a responsible smartphone owner. Read about it on the next page.
Preparing children for smartphone ownership
Allowing a child smartphone ownership can be scary, but a little parental guidance can make this transition easier and safer. Thankfully, by following these seven tips you can prepare your son or daughter to merrily enjoy their smartphone clear into the new year and beyond. To help you on this path, we have compiled the list below:
- Learn the common dangers facing children when using smartphones. Parents can’t afford to ignore the threats trolling social media apps and need to know the warning signs a child is being harassed or being involved in risky behaviours.
- Create a contract for the family regarding technology. Write a formal agreement clearly stating the consequences and expectations when using devices or smartphones. Taking a few moments to do this as a family will keep everyone on the same page and prevent future arguments.
- Help children create passwords and privacy settings for all accounts. Many children aren’t as concerned about privacy and often fail to properly guard their information. Sit down and walk a child through the process to empower them to learn the proper way to safeguard their data. As an added precaution, encourage children to never share their passwords- even with their best friends.
- Teach social media etiquette. Make sure children understand the power a negative digital presence can have on their future. Many experts suggest only posting something you would feel comfortable with your grandparents viewing.
- Restrict the data on the device. One obvious benefit is a cheaper cell phone bill, but as an added bonus our children are more intentional when it comes to spending time on social media or games.
- Limit smartphone use to common living areas. Keep cell phones and devices out of bedrooms for two reasons: it protects them from inappropriate interactions and will insulate their sleep schedule from interruption.
- In the beginning, monitor your son’s and daughter’s devices. Our kids will take great measures to hide their smartphone and Internet footprint. It is believed 70 percent of teens hide their activity from parents. This can lead to cyberbullying, sexting, and more dangerous activity. As a child shows responsibility, you can begin to offer them more independence.