Brittany Van Vliet
Back to School: Is This the Year They Get a Smartphone?
Getting a phone has become a coming-of-age milestone.-
It's back-to-school days -- time to stock up on school supplies.
In my day, that meant buying a Trapper Keeper three-ring binder or maybe even a graphing calculator. Today's kids want phones.
Whether your family provides that first Cellular phone in elementary, middle or even high school. Getting one has become an important milestone in the our digital age we live in. It's not something most parents can identify with, which means we're pretty much on our own when trying to figure out the best approach. Here are 5 tips to help you decide when the right time is.
1. Remember: Cheaper is better
Kids lose and break stuff all the time, so why on Earth would you spend $700 (or more) on a brand-new phone from Apple or Samsung? Instead, consider hand-me-downs, used phones or one of the low-cost Android phones available through your carrier. And you definitely want to explore the new wireless family plans now on offer from carriers as well as prepaid plans from companies like Verizon, AT&T, and Google. Places like Target ad Walmart carry prepaid phones.
2. Establish boundaries
Make your kids sign a contract with you before you hand them that phone. Things to spell out: You own the phone, not them. They will share all passwords with you. You will go through their phone at the end of each day. And, oh yes, terms of service can change at any time.
3. Know what's out there
You may not use Snapchat, Kik Messenger or Whisper, but your kids do. So make sure you're aware of the latest apps and talk to your kids about how they're using their phones. Don't forget about Facebook, or Instagram. When I was a teen it was MySpace, that feels like ages ago.
4. Model good phone etiquette
Don't want your kids to check Facebook at the dinner table, answer texts in the middle of a conversation or talk loudly in public? Then don't do those things either. It's the only way they'll listen to you.
5. Set up parental controls
Want to make sure your kids don't download inappropriate apps or songs, or make unexpected purchases? With parental controls, you can restrict what they use and how they use it, set up kid-safe search filters and allow them to visit only pre-approved sites. Our company can help you with setting up Parental controls, as well as educate you.
These last two are up to your parenting style:
6. Monitor their phone use:
Look at their internet history, the apps they use, games they play, videos they watch. And talk to your children about what you find. Make sure they understand your feeling and rules on the their internet or app usage.
7. If all else fails, take away the phone
Having a phone is a privilege -- not a right. Don't be afraid to take away the phone if they violate your trust or do something they shouldn't have. Just be ready to live with the aftermath. I have had to do this when my son was watching YouTube videos instead of doing his homework.