It can be quite hard trying to decide when a child should get their first smartphone without working out how to keep them safe. It is now common for children under the age of 10 to have a smartphone, even if they do not actually need one, and now that the phone is able to do more than simply make and receive calls, you have to think about what measures to take to ensure that their usage is safe.
Children will have access to the internet from their handset and it is important to add on parental controls to make sure that they are only looking at suitable material. Putting a password on the phone is a must. This means that if the phone is stolen or ‘borrowed’ by one of the child’s friends it cannot simply be used at will. You can also set up a password for parental use so that you can go in and make changes to the settings if needed.
As many children have a habit of breaking things it is a good idea to make sure that the phone is protected with a cover. This will prevent the screen from breaking if it is dropped and you will not need to pay out for a replacement. If the child takes their phone to school they will need to make sure that it is safe. A particular pocket in their bag is a good idea and they should be encouraged to keep tabs on the phone.
Comprehensive Contact List
Make sure that the phone has controls that are easy to operate and that the contacts list on the handset is not just their friends from school. They should have home and work numbers for parents, grandparents and other relatives if needed so that if help is required somebody can be reached quickly. Make sure that they know who they should call if there is a problem. Many children at senior school will travel to and from the school by themselves or with friends and it is a good idea for them to have a mobile phone now that phone boxes are disappearing from the streets.
There are several safety apps which can be added to the phone. There are GPS apps which will help you to track both the phone and the child so that if you are worried where they are you can check up on them.
There are also apps which will prevent other apps from being downloaded if they are not suitable. There are apps which will help to limit internet usage too.
Set a few ground rules about the phone usage before you agree to the child having one. Make sure that they have available credit and that they do not use it all simply calling friends. Ask the child about the rules they should be following – they may actually surprise you. Limiting the use of phones in the home is a good idea otherwise they will spend time on the handset rather than doing their homework.
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