Questions to Ask Before Buying a Cell Phone
1. Is my child ready for a phone?
First, are they ready? Are they responsible enough to keep the phone safe and not lose it? Do they have the social and emotional maturity to own a phone? Can they identify what is good versus bad information?
Media on a cell phone (especially one connected to the internet) can be limitless, so children need to know how to steer away from the negative or adult-related content and misinformation that’s out there.
Are they mature enough to understand their own emotions? If they would run into any questionable situations on social media, can they follow the right steps to handle it? Do they have social awareness?
Lastly, do they know how to be safe when it comes to interacting with others on their phone, whether it is through text message or any type of app or social media?
When your child is getting his or her first phone, answering each of these questions can help you determine if they are ready.
2. What kind of phone is appropriate?
As we all know, there are a lot of different phone options out there.
Children can start with a brand new phone or a used phone. Phones can be used strictly for calling and text messaging, without internet capabilities, or they can have access to everything.
The main reason a child should have their first phone is to communicate with us. And there are great options out there for kid-safe mobile devices. One example is Gabb Wireless. This is a phone that will monitor length of use, explicit content, social media, and cyberbullying. It does not have internet or social media access on the device.
3. What expectations do we have?
Once your child has the phone, expectations should be set.
Parents can put together a cell phone contract that includes information on what the child should anticipate when they own a phone. For example: limits for screen time, not using the phone when driving, parental approval of downloading apps, etc.
This is something you and your child can sign together. Then he or she is aware of what you expect of their phone use and what the consequences would be if those rules are broken.
4. Will my child be safe?
One of my biggest concerns about my child having a phone is ensuring safety!
Making sure they don’t have interactions with strangers, that they aren’t seeing content unsuitable for their age, that they aren’t exposing their identity unknowingly.
As a parent, it’s important to continuously be aware of what is out there and try to be ahead of any potential dangers your child may face.
And the simplest and easiest way to determine if your child should be on a certain platform is to learn more about it yourself, first.
5. What kind of parental guidelines can we set?
Parents can also set guidelines on your child’s phone. You can hold some control over what they do.
You can limit the screen time, block access to specific apps, or simply monitor their activity.
One application you can try is Bark. This dashboard allows you to monitor text messages, emails, and 30+ different social networks.