Wanted by teenagers today – a smartphone that keeps them busy texting and allows them to stay connected with their peers. Parents today are under immense pressure to buy their kids a smartphone. According to a study by Pew Internet and American Life Project, around 25 percent of children between the ages 14 and 27 already have one. The question here isn’t about whether or not to give the kid a smartphone. It is when you should give them one. And what you should do before you give them an expensive and distractive gadget like a smartphone.
Rule#1 – You will always know their location
Kids share their location on Facebook and other social networking sites by “checking-in” when they are at a place, thereby informing even strangers about their whereabouts. And smartphones come in very handy when they want to do that. That is not a safe practice. So before you hand over your smartphone to them, get an app that will enable you to keep a track of their location at all times. Insist on keeping a tab on their location at all times, for their own safety.
Rule#2 – No texting or talking on phone when driving
Accidents due to texting or talking on mobile phones are in large numbers in the United States. As a parent it is your responsibility to tell your kids about the dangers of driving when texting or when speaking on phone. Make sure you explain the consequences to them without scaring them, but strongly enough to make sure they drive safe and use the smartphone responsibly.
Rule#3 – Have them use Wi-Fi whenever possible
The fact that you can use smartphone for more than just calling or texting is what makes it so smart. Teenagers tend to lean into what is “cool” or trending, and in this age, it is social media and instant mobile messaging, which they can access with an internet connection. Truth is that your kids are likely to be connected to Facebook, play multiplayer games and other social networking apps at all times, except when they are sleeping. If you don’t want their mobile bills to go sky high, have them use Wi-Fi when they access heavy duty apps or even to access the net, whenever possible.
Rule#4 – Adherence to phone manners
Smartphones can be addictive. Study has proven that people in the US spend an average of 444 minutes every day on their smartphones. This means they are checking for messages or playing games or simply accessing the net through their mobile at all possible times, which includes dinner time, when in bed and even when talking to someone. Prevent your teen from building this annoying habit and lay some ground rules even before you give them the smartphone. Also make it clear that you can take the phone back at any moment you feel they are spending too much time on it.
Rule#5 – No Sexting
Sexting is a dangerous and destructive habit your teens can get into when they have their own smartphone. The ability to share any kind of message, text or video can be thrilling and in that excitement, they may end up receiving and sending inappropriate content to their peers. Be very clear when it comes to sexting – if your teen gets caught doing it, you take away the phone for good.