Every generation of parents faces a new challenge that those before them had the pleasure not to contend with. For the modern day parent, this challenge is technology. No, not keeping up to date with the latest gadgets (although this can be a task unto itself), but keeping up with how your children are using them. It is estimated that as many as 68% of children under 14 now own a smartphone, yet for many parents, it’s a choice that’s preceded by hours of deliberating and indecision. The very reason many allow their child their first mobile, is for safety, and yet it can be the cause of endless worrying, especially with plenty of time on their hands now the summer holidays are underway. However, it is possible to feel confident of your child’s wellbeing- we’ve put together five things to consider when allowing your child their own mobile.
Limit their internet access
Fortunately, all mobile phone companies are obliged to provide an internet filter on their phones to block potentially harmful content, but what not a lot of people know is that most operators won’t activate this filter unless you ask them too. It also goes without saying that it’s really important to look into whether the phone has access to chatrooms.
Similarly, it makes sense to check whether Bluetooth is enabled- if it is, any personal information on their phone may not remain personal! The key is to be proactive and not make assumptions- better to be safe than sorry.
Know who they are speaking to
Another fairly obvious point, but it really is worth emphasising the importance of speaking to your child about who they have contact with. As well as never answering calls from withheld numbers, or those they don’t recognise, it’s also essential they don’t give out their number to people they don’t know. The same goes for text messages.
Be aware of cyber bullying
No one wants to think about their child being bullied, but whilst the internet, and social networks like Facebook, can help them to form friendships, it also makes life a lot easier for cyber bullies, providing kids with what can seem like an almost anonymous platform to target people from. Depending on the age of your child therefore, it’s worth making sure you have access to, and regularly check, their phone. On top of this, simply ensuring they feel they can talk to you about anything is a great step towards tackling the issue.
Keep an eye on your bills
As well as making the decision of whether your child has a pay as you go deal or a contract, it’s also important to think about the potential costs of added extras. Picture messages and voicemails often fall outside of your monthly allowance for example. Streaming videos and downloading games can also see your bills spiral out of control!
Keep their phone safe
Think of how many times you’ve broken your screen, dropped your phone in water, or felt the uncontrollable panic when you wonder where you left your phone. Now imagine your child in possession of a phone, and consider all the things that could go wrong. Speak to your child about keeping their phone zipped away when they aren’t using it, get a sturdy case and make sure you take out mobile phone insurance!