Kids and cell phones have become a common combination in today’s world. In fact, the Pew Research Center reports that around 75 percent of kids between the ages of 12-17 have their own cell phone today. What’s more, around 88 percent of them use it to text regularly, sending an average of around 3,000 text messages per month. It stands to reason that some of that texting, along with calls and online surfing, is done at inappropriate times. But there are things that parents can do to set parental controls and ensure safe practices.
Many parents would probably like to simply not allow their child to have a cell phone. But if the statistics are correct, and they likely are, it looks like this is an option that most parents are not taking. Many parents find it beneficial for their child to have a cell phone so that they have access to communicating with them at all times. Others feel that there is no harm in it, at least until their child gets in trouble for using their phone in class. Some parents may become aware of the inappropriate issues when they find half naked pictures on their teen’s phone, or they sit behind teens during a movie and hear them take calls.
Short of simply not allowing them to have a cell phone in the first place, there are some things that parents can do to help curb the inappropriate cell phone usage, including:
• Set rules: Right from the start it is important to discuss the rules with your child so they know what you feel is allowed on the phone and what isn’t. This helps establish what type of behavior you want from them right away.
• Make them earn it. Rather than just saying no to the cell phone, make it something that they have to pay for all on their own. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come with rules attached, but it may make them more responsible with it.
• Take it away. Remember the set of rules that you determined they needed to follow? When they break them you will need to dish out a consequence in order to keep them from doing it again. That consequence should be to take the phone, even if it is for a day or week for each broken rule.
• Monitor usage. Most parents are not around at all times to ensure that their child is not texting while driving, sending sex-related texts (sexting), or doing other things they are not supposed to be doing. To keep tabs on this, try a monitoring software, which will work without them knowing, and will give parents a complete log of everything their child did on the cell phone.
• Set Parental Controls. Smartphone parental control software allows parents to enforce curfews, restrict content, and block communication to certain individuals. By setting up a software to restrict child cell phone usage parents can be sure that the rules they set are being followed at all times.
Set the Example
Kids today are using their cell phones at inappropriate times, such as during school and texting while driving, among others. One good way for parents to help curb this problem is to set a good example. Especially when their kids are around it is important that parents pay attention to what they are doing with their phones, so their children learn the appropriate ways and times to use theirs.
Kelly Austin works with a team of writers at PhoneSheriff and helps parents get more control over how their children use their iPhone or Android device. You can follow Kelly on Twitter @KellyAustin1986