Undoubtedly cell phones are a great way to stay in touch with your kids anytime, anywhere, giving you a sense of security but how do you decide if your child is old enough to have one?
What is the best time for parents to give their child a cell phone?
On average, children in the U.K. receive their first phone at the age of 11. Is that really the right age for them?
This post covers how you can decide the best time to give your child a phone, considering the consequences and how to monitor exactly how they use it.
The Right Age for a Cell Phone: Is Your Child Ready?
Most experts agree there’s no single answer to that because every family is different. But it’s a tough call for parents because it’s not just about age, it’s mainly about the potential consequences of letting your child have a phone.
A phone opens up a Pandora’s Box of potential issues: access to inappropriate apps, sexting, internet addiction and impaired social interaction skills.
Are you prepared to deal with all that?
Here’s how you can decide whether your child is ready for a cell phone:
- Do your children “need” to be in touch for safety reasons — or social ones?
- How independent and responsible are your kids? Can you trust them to not compromise their studies, etc if given a phone?
- Do they really need a smartphone?
- If yes, then are they mature enough to honor limits (like no texting during class, or disturbing others with their conversations, and using the text, photo, and video functions responsibly and ethically – and not to embarrass or harass others)?
- Do they understand the ideas of cyber bullying? Do you think they are comfortable enough to discuss any such problems with you, if they face them?
- Do you think they will use their smartphones to maintain a safe public profile over the internet and social media?
If you feel the answer to those questions is yes, or mostly yes then you can probably trust your child enough to give him/her a phone, but that does not mean that you shouldn’t still monitor their phone activity.
Times may have changed, but parenting hasn’t. No matter how technologically savvy they may be after all they’re still children and we’re still the parents.
And it’s our job to keep a check and guide them where they go wrong.
Phones Today: Far more than JUST communication devices
Just remember when you hand kids phones today, you’re giving them powerful communications and production tools that put social media, videos, games, movies, music, and TV shows within reach.
They can download just about everything in the world, ranging from books and educational encyclopedias to adult jokes and porn.
Are you ready for your child to have that kind of access?
Your children can create text, images, and videos that can be uploaded to websites like Youtube and Facebook and become widely distributed across the internet.
Social interaction can be positive as it teaches kids to relate to other kids but science isn’t sure yet if social media interactions actually add to learning from real-life interactions.
How can cell phones affect your kids?
Instead there is the threat of “cyber bullying,” which is social harassment via text, instant messaging, or other social media when kids use their smartphones without our supervision because we wouldn’t know what they’re sharing with the world!
Many smartphones have a “location sharing” feature which kids can use to broadcast their status and their location, which raises concerns about people stalking them and subsequent cyber bullying.
Research on how cell phones affect mental and emotional health is still in the early stages but preliminary studies show that frequent texting and emailing can disrupt children’s concentration and impair their social interaction skills.
A recent survey by TextPlus reported that half of teens surveyed say they can’t live longer than a week without their phones, and 36% said they check their phones at least once every 10 minutes.
This just goes on to show how cell phones can also become compulsive if kids start being “on call” 24/7 to keep up with their friends.
Making Sure They’re Safe: Monitoring Your Child’s Phone
Our job as parents doesn’t end at deciding that our child is trustworthy enough to deserve a phone, it goes far beyond that.
Should you check who your child is calling and what he/she’s tweeting? Should you keep a check on what your child is texting and who they’re befriending over social media? Do you need to check what apps your child is downloading on their phone? Absolutely!
Renowned psychologist at the NYU, USA, Caroline Evans says that parents need to check their kids’ phones regularly to make sure they’re being used respectfully.
Parents can thus help their children understand the importance of using a cell phone responsibly and open discussions about cyber bullying:
‘Have you gotten weird texts?’ ‘Any calls that made you uncomfortable?’ ‘Who are you texting?
How can you monitor your child’s phone?
However the major issue that parents face is to make phones built for grown-ups safe for kids. That is where you need the help of amazing cell phone monitoring apps like StealthGenie and Phonesheriff that can provide you with continuous online surveillance of your child’s phone, saving you all the trouble of snooping!
Having a monitoring software installed on your child’s phone makes it easy to track online activity and block inappropriate websites.
Parents can monitor call logs, texts, Whatsapp, iMessage and Blackberry conversations while also controlling who calls or texts can go out to.
You can view all the multimedia stored on the phone and even track the GPS location. Control the phone with a remote lock and erase feature — and do it all remotely from an online control panel!
Let’s take a look at some of the unique features of each Phonesheriff and StealthGenie, in addition to ones mentioned above to help you decide which software could work best for you.
This app truly lives up to its name and is your best shot if your child is 13 years old or younger. You can restrict access to inappropriate apps, set time limits on phone usage by blocking all functions or just calls after dinner.
Anti-abduction mode ensures that you can take a stealthy photo of the surroundings and remotely record the background sounds along with tracking the GPS location if your child is in trouble.
Add a panic alert button if your child suffers from diabetes or epilepsy so that you can be immediately notified with his/her location.
Profanity alert notifies you if your child types any pre-set restricted keywords. You can also monitor the overall mobile data usage stats and track multiple devices with just one purchase of the software!
This app covers surveillance of a wide range of social activity so is the best choice if your child is particularly attached to social media, namely is a teenager.
It monitors whereabouts, Facebook messages, Viber and Skype calls, iMessage, Viber, Skype, Gtalk and Whatsapp conversations along with Pin messages in addition to those mentioned above.
You can record calls, intercept live calls, listen to the phone’s surroundings live and using the advanced Geofencing feature, get notifications when your child leaves a predefined safe area or enters a risky one to make sure that your teen is in safe company.
You can define suspicious words and phone numbers and receive notifications on your phone when your child uses those.
So is your child ready for a phone and are you equipped with an efficient software to monitor their device? Let us know.