Giving your child their first phone is a big step. It’s something that you’re trusting them with, and it’s something that allows them more independence. Although you have decided it’s the right time to get your child a mobile phone, it’s important not to simply hand it to them. You need to set some rules and expectations so that your child knows what they can and can’t do with their new phone. It will help to ensure your child knows how to behave appropriately and what they should be doing to take care of their mobile phone. Here are some rules that you might set.
Take Care of It
The first rules that most parents will want to implement is that the phone must be cared for. Even if you get your child a second-hand or refurbished phone, it’s still a significant expense. They should be expected to look after their phone, keeping track of where it is and ensuring it won’t get damaged. It’s also their responsibility to keep their phone charged and, if there are limits on calls, texts or data, to make sure they don’t run out of airtime. Establish what the consequences will be if the phone is lost or damaged.
Using Phones at the Right Time
Your child needs to know that although they have a phone, they don’t need to use it all the time. It’s not appropriate for use in class when they’re at school, for example. You might want them to keep their phone out of their bedroom so that they’re not tempted to play with it at night. If you have teenagers who drive, it’s also vital to let them know that using their phone while driving is not allowed. You might also only allow phone use as a reward for good behaviour and remove it as a negative consequence for less desired behaviour.
Staying Safe and Behaving Online
A smartphone gives your child access to the internet in a new way. They should already know a few things about staying safe online and how to behave. When your child gets their own phone for the first time, it’s worth going over these things and reinforcing them. It can also be helpful to keep an eye on your child’s activity using one of the methods in this article by Family Orbit on cell phone monitoring. Being able to check up on your child’s online activity might be one of the conditions you set for phone use, but only up until a certain age.
If younger children want to download anything, it’s a good idea to make sure they get your approval first. This will ensure you know what they have on their phone and allow you to make sure it’s safe and suitable. When they do download an app, you can make sure you set restrictions to prevent their location being shared, make sure they can’t make in-app purchases, and so on.
Ultimately be sure to set clear rules for your child’s phone use so that they know what you expect and how to use their phone responsibly.
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