People have asked me when did I give my children a mobile phone. Me and Mr H felt that unless there was a need for it, they shouldn’t have one, so when they started High School, along came the phone. They were going out on their own, meeting friends, going to the park and I wanted to make sure that they could contact me (and me them) if they needed to.
We live in a world where children don’t read books anymore to do their homework, they search the internet, which lets be honest is a fantastic resource. A lot of the High School homework is set on-line so they have to access the internet to complete it.
With technology everywhere, it’s important that children know how to keep safe on the internet from an early age. My 5 year old can use an i-Pad and being safe on line is the same as teaching him not to talk to strangers. We have passwords set up so that apps can’t be downloaded without us entering a passcode. This also stops anyone purchasing apps or music (we learnt the hard way though!)
Children don’t talk on the phone anymore, it’s all on-line through Snap Chat and Face Time. Many times I’ve had a phone thrust in my face only to see one of my children’s friends face smiling, which I guess does save money on the phone bill. Unfortunately bullying seems to follow them home from school now too. There are apps such as Sahara where you can post anonymously comments about other people, and they’re usually not kind ones.
Recently in my children’s High School mobile phones have been banned. They are allowed to take them on their journey to and from school but if they are found with them out during school time they are confiscated.
There are ways in which you can keep you children safe.
On Android, you can set a pin for purchases from Google Play Store and set an age level for downloading apps.
On an iPhone, you can restrict the browser access, sharing location, app access, in-app purchases and activate ‘find my iPhone’ to name just a few things.
You could do random history browser checks. This isn’t something that we’ve ever felt the need to do but I know parents who have.
You need to remember why you want your child to have a phone, what you want them to be able to do with it and what sort of phone you want them to have. For us, we just wanted them to have a way to get hold of us if they needed to and vice versa. Our eldest son has had a phone for 4 years and during that time technology has changed dramatically and the things that are available to children is frightening. I suggest parental locks for everything until they are at least 18!!!!