Your child may be able to use your smartphone before he or she can walk, but that doesn’t mean that he or she should have their own! A recent survey
Technology has changed the way that individuals communicate, learn, socialize and build relationships. One form of technology that has had a drastic effect in the way that individuals interact is the mobile phone. With the increasing amount of applications available at the click of a button, individuals can do almost anything in the palm of their hands.
Youth and cell phones
A growing number of younger children are getting mobile phones. In many cases, giving your child a mobile phone has many advantages. These include, inter alia:
- Enabling your children to call you in the case of emergencies
- If your child gets lost, they can send a dropped pin so you can know their exact location
- They can contact you throughout the day if you are away on a business trip
- They can look up information that they are unsure of
Many young people are using their phones responsibly however parents are still concerned about the risks that come with giving their children a device that provides them with access to an array of applications and limitless options.
How is your child using their mobile phone?
Children use their phones to engage in many different activities, such as sharing text messages, videos and pictures. They also use it for logging into social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Some children will even use their phones to gather information for their homework.
An article in Connect safely – a parent’s guide to mobile phones draws attention to the list of aspects parents need to consider in order to see whether their child is ready for a mobile phone. These are listed below.
- Able to understand the cost of providing and using a phone and willing to stay within the usage limits you set.
- Ready to take good care of a phone (i.e., isn’t likely to lose of break it.)
- Able to manage his or her time and not use the phone for socialising or entertainment when there is schoolwork to be done.
- Willing to answer when you call and call you when it’s time to check in.
- Able to use the phone politely, in a way that respects the feelings of people in the room or at the other end of the conversation.
- Willing to only share his or her location with close real-life friends and family.
- Ready to accept the consequences of breaking the family phone rules.
It is crucial for parents to inform their children on how to stay safe when using their mobile phones. This includes:
- Communicating responsiblyIf your child had access to WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter or any other social networking site they need to be cautious about what they say online. They also need to be careful with what they post and what pictures or videos they send out.
- Always lock your phone if you are not using itA simple yet effective way of ensuring data and information stay safe is to lock your phone. It is also advisable to have a difficult security passcode to open it (that way if anyone steals the phone they will not be able to unlock it).
- Phone finder applicationIt is worthwhile installing the ‘phone finder’ application software in case the phone is stolen. This software can help block and deactivate the phone as soon as it has been discovered that it is missing.