It seems kids today have their own mobile device at younger ages than even just a few years ago. As we talked with our son, I realized that we were approaching the question from two different viewpoints.
Choosing Safe Phone for Kids
Our son is a typical middle schooler, and he sees the mobile device as a social tool, a way to find a sense of belonging with his peers. He wants to contact pals from school and church about homework, basketball and all the other little adventures of life — and maybe enjoy a few games and apps on the side.
Like most parents, my wife and I approached the smartphone question from a different angle. Family life is just easier when everyone can check in or be checked up on at any time. So, as parents, before we can give a good response to this request, we need to first ask ourselves a few questions:. As a family counselor, I am always hearing from parents who are frustrated about the way mobile devices dominate their kids' lives.
The use and misuse of these devices has become a major focus of their daily parenting. There are apps and games to be aware of, texting boundaries and time limits on games, the possibility of online predators, and all the corners of the internet available for a child to explore. Yes, there are likely moments these parents are happy to tap a screen and get in touch with their children.
But the first question parents need to ask themselves is whether those times of convenience outweigh the complications. When we give our children a portable electronic window into everything the world has to offer, our parenting challenges potentially increase, not decrease.
What's the best cell phone for kids?
Those challenges can be managed, but we must have good reasons for heading into this territory. Not long ago, I read a story about a mom who'd gotten her kids phones as a "safety net" when her kids were commuting to school. The Family Contract for Smartphone Use from ConnectSafely is a good tool to help you set specific rules and responsibilities for both children and parents.
For more information and advice on deciding when to get your child a smartphone, check out When Is Your Kid Old Enough for a Smartphone? While setting rules is an important part of helping your child establish healthy smartphone habits before they hit adulthood, they still need to understand why these rules exist.
An excellent way to explain smartphone rules to kids is to talk about how you use your smartphone.
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Although this may cause you to question your own smartphone habits, it can teach your child the potential advantages and hazards of smartphones. By setting an example your child wants to emulate, you become a powerful influence in developing healthy smartphone habits for your child. If your child has an iPhone, you can take advantage of its built-in Screen Time parental controls to place restrictions on apps, purchases, explicit content, Siri, privacy and other settings.
While Screen Time may not have the comprehensive tools of some parental control apps, it might meet your needs and save you money in the long term. Screen Time is available on devices running iOS 12, which was released on September 17, Google also has an app called Digital Wellbeing, which allows you to self-restrict app access on devices running Android 9. This app is geared towards adults tracking and managing their own screen time, but we like the potential of using this app to help older children and teens learn about healthy smartphone habits. However, it also has a few unique features such as an extensive library of kid-friendly books, videos, games, audiobooks, apps, and educational content.
These are the current parental control offerings from the four largest U. If you need legal advice before using parental control apps on your kids' phones, you should contact an attorney or legal counsel. Because wiretap laws vary by state, we do not advocate using smartphone parental apps to record phone calls, either audio or video.
Phones and Maturity Level
Look for apps with clear-cut reports that make it easy to track relevant information. We especially liked the colorful reports in Qustodio.
Most programs let you choose from a variety of reports, including monthly or hourly reports with graphs, lists of frequent contacts, browser history, newly installed apps, message history, calendar events, pictures taken, GPS location and keystrokes. You can set a window of time when your child can access apps and the browser and adjust it whenever needed. Some of the apps we tested allow you to remotely unlock the phone for a few minutes of open access if your child requests it.
When kids get their first cell phones around the world
It's essential that the parental control smartphone app you choose lets you restrict access to other apps and the internet. Choosing an invisible app can make it more difficult for your child to bypass the restrictions on their phone. Though these apps support most common smartphones and carriers, not all are compatible.
It's important that you double-check the brand and model of the phone you want to monitor so you don't waste money on incompatible software. Most developers have extensive lists of compatible devices on their websites. Each of the apps in our comparison works on Android and iOS devices. Features are generally more limited on iOS than Android because Apple maintains strict control over the operating system. You need to have physical access to the target device to install the software, as none of them can be installed remotely.
Some features require a rooted Android or jailbroken iOS device. Because of the inherent risks that come with either of these processes, we do not advocate doing so. The survey, detailed by Child Guide Magazine , found most children get their first cell phone by the age of six. So why are parents getting their kids a cell phone so early in their childhood?
The largest majority of parents, percent, said they purchased a cell phone for their child for "security reasons, so my child could always contact me. We want to know what you think. At which age should children get their first cell phones, and how young is too young? Weigh on now on our ABC Facebook page. Related topics: technology children parenting games television xbox family cellphone u.
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