It seems like kids are asking for their own smart phones at earlier and earlier ages, and many parents are unsure what to do. These days, even many kindergarten students are already begging mom and dad for a cell phone of their own, and these phones can be good tools for staying in touch and reporting unexpected emergencies. On top of that, many parents give in to the kids’ demand for a smart phone out of concern that their sons and daughters would otherwise be the only ones in town without such a device.
Of course the decision to buy your child a cell phone is a personal one, and a number of factors are in play, from the age and maturity level of the child to your own family budget. No matter what age you decide on, it is important to look at safety and lay down some basic ground rules before you turn your son or daughter loose with a fully-featured smart phone.
That is because smart phones do so much more than just make and receive phone calls. Modern smart phones include web browsers that give users the Internet at the touch o a button. That means that all the bad stuff on the web, from porn sites to sexual predators – is also just a click away. It is therefore important to discuss online boundaries with your kids – after all, you are the one paying the monthly cell phone bill.
Parents can also install safe browsing software that restricts access to certain Internet sites. These applications are a good way to keep your kids safe on their smart phones, but it is a good idea to check up on the app from time to time. Many kids know the tricks for getting around those kinds of filters, so parents may need to make sure the applications are working and that they have not been disabled. Parents can set expectations up front, including consequences for surfing to prohibited sites or disabling filtering software.
For parents of younger children, there are specialized smart phones designed just for them, and parents should take a close look at these specialty devices. These phones are designed just for the youngest children, those in kindergarten and elementary school, and they have a number o protections and filters built in to make them appropriate for those younger kids. It is a good idea for parents to shop around and look at several different models, since every phone has its own set of features and protections built in.
Buying a smart phone or a young child can be much more complicated than choosing a device for yourself. Your son or daughter will no doubt want a stylish phone with all the modern features, but as a parent you need to also shop with safety in mind.
The author’s entire family have a smartphone and recently have had to check that younger members have adequate protection.
Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/intelfreepress/8047838494/