If we’re being honest, though, I don’t really think life was better then! And I’m not even sure it was simpler. I remember printing out map directions to places and I remember setting times with people to meet them, pick them up, get picked up, etc. and it wasn’t always seamless. If you had told the old me that I’d one day have the whole world at my fingertips, I wouldn’t have been able to even imagine it. Not yet. And if you had told me I’d have to make decisions for my kids based on having the whole world at their fingertips? No. Way. On. Earth. It’s a unique situation to have, as well as a personal one.
How to Prepare Kids For Smartphones:
1 – Write up a contract! And maintain it, because what’s relevant now might not be relevant in a year. Technology changes fast. What you put in your contract may differ but for us, we might put that we have the right to check the phone at any time without warning. Or about smartphone use at home and in public. And how much privacy should be respected, etc.
2 – Talk to your children about inappropriate texts and photos. It’s a tough conversation to have, but probably one of the most important. Let your kids know about the real legal and emotional implications involved in sending, sharing or forwarding inappropriate messages. And let them know that what they release into the internet could be there to stay.
3 – Speaking of which, talk to them about cyberbullying. Talk about the steps to take when cyberbullying occurs. And make sure you have all of their passwords for your own use, should you need it. The conversation isn’t just about smartphones being breeding grounds for cyberbullies. You should talk to your kids both about being bullied and about BEING the bully.
4 – Set limits on the smartphones. For us, that’s no smartphones in the bedroom after lights out. Maybe we’ll set a “phone curfew” that will probably be later on weekend nights than weekday nights but will still mean that the phone is handed over at that time. Also, no smartphones during family time, out at restaurants, at the dinner table, and with grandparents.
5 – Next, only let them set up social media accounts and apps with your consent, and make sure you research the platform or app if it’s new to you. You’ll need to monitor HOW your child uses the phone. Establish good habits early.
6 – Next, talk to your kids about not texting and driving! This is also one of the more important conversations you’ll have.
7 – Then, use smartphones as teaching opportunities. Maybe they can pay part or all of their smartphone bills, or at least understand and appreciate the costs it takes to run a smartphone these days, even with a family plan.
8 – Model good phone behavior. That means don’t stare at your screen when your kids are talking to you. Put your phone down in the places and situations in which you ask the same of your kids – church, dinner, family time, with loved ones, etc.
9 – Consider a GizmoWatch first. A GizmoWatch can help teach kids responsibility and help give you control. They have 2-way voice calls and messaging, managed screen time, real-time GPS, and are plenty family friendly.
10 – Lastly, always remember that it’s YOUR phone and these are YOUR rules, for the time being. Teach with love.
Do you feel more ready, because I certainly do!
As much prep as it may take to prepare kids for smartphones, there are many benefits to letting them own a smartphone. You’ll know where your kids are, how to reach them, and who they’re calling and texting. Verizon has wonderful services like smart family GPS tracking. A smartphone helps keep your kids organized with sports, part time jobs, homework, and school. It can help with chores when you use apps, accessories and rewards. And it can bring you closer as a family. Scarlet uses a messenger and can write me from her tablet. I’ve found out how witty and emoji-driven she can be!
I believe this is a topic we are all approaching as parents, or will soon – monitoring your child’s online activity. What I love is that Verizon Wireless has created tools that help us balance trust and safety. They have tracking programs and apps that limit teens’ online activity. And they’re dedicated to bridging the gap between safety and freedom, which is important!
The Pew Research Center found that 61% of parents “have checked which websites their teen has visited” last year. We can all agree that parents face a delicate balance between giving teens privacy and freedom to express themselves, and also in ensuring protection from the potential dangers of the internet. It’s a topic that’s on all of our minds, and lately.