Are you considering getting your child his/her first cell phone?
The AT&T Mobile Safety School #ATTMobileSafety can help you make the decision.
Did you know?
- The average age a child is given his or her first phone is 12.1
- The average age for a child’s first smartphone is 13.8
- For kids 8-11 who have a cell phone, the average age they received their first phone was 9.5
Our son received his first cell phone two years ago. It was a hand-me-down “dumb phone”. Then last Christmas, we upgraded him to a pre-paid smartphone. He is 12.
It might seem to young to some people but I wanted the assurance that when my son is at a friends house, staying after school, etc. he ALWAYS has a way to get in touch with me and his dad if he needs to. We upgraded to a smartphone, actually, to help with his homework. The smartphone gives him access to the internet to look things up when the home computer is occupied by one of the other kids. It gives him a calculator, the ability to ask his teacher questions via email as well as learning apps. And he has to “earn” his minutes each month by keeping his grades up and doing chores around the house.
So it was a multi-reason decision. And one that was well thought out. But there are certain precautions that have to be taken with that decision.
- Cell phones aren’t just for talking anymore. More likely, kids are texting, surfing the web, updating Facebook pages, playing games, downloading apps, playing with ring tones, taking pictures, recording video, and more.
- When you give your children smartphones, you’re giving them powerful communications and media production tools.They can create text, images, and videos that can be widely distributed and uploaded to Web sites instantly.
One thing that is helping us discuss cell phone safety with our son and daughters is a AT&T Mobile Safety School #ATTMobileSafety webinar that I attended. I will also be hosting an in-home AT&T Mobile Safety School Meeting with my mom friends to help them with cell phone safety and decision to purchase a phone for their kids.
AT&T has developed this program to provide tips, tools and resources for parents to help their families stay connected and stay safe – AT&T Mobile Safety.
So we have to set limits and ground rules. Some of those rules include:
- No phones at the dinner table – this goes for mom and dad too
- No phones after 8:00PM – 10 on the weekends
- No internet access – We do allow internet access but it is STRICTLY monitored.
- Daily call and text log review – We check our what our son says he uses against the phone service site logs and compare his usage. If there is a discrepancy that he can’t account for or if he has gone over the limits we set, he loses his phone for a week.
- Limit data/messaging usage to $20 per month
- Phones in parents room after 10:00PM – This way, they can’t sneak and use their phone when you’re asleep.
- Free apps only OR $10 limit each month on apps and downloads – We actually only allow our kids to download free apps that have family-friendly/kid-friendly ads. If there is a paid app that they would like to have, it has to be presented to us and then we’ll decide if they can earn it with an extra chore or not. The next tip goes along with this:
- Evaluate the cost of “free.” Many apps are offered for free because they are full of ads that may not be age-appropriate. The full, paid version of these apps may not have the ads. Consider an investment in the full version of apps to avoid exposing kids to ads.
- Block phone calls of friends who have been texting after 10:00PM
- Text parents when they arrive at locations – school, friend’s house, etc.
- Install GPS locator app (like AT&T FamilyMap)
- Talk about social networking apps that have location-sharing. Increasingly, many apps make it easy for teens to post their location, which opens them up to safety and privacy issues, including the possibility of face-to-face meet-ups with strangers.
These are, really, only a few of the things we do to make sure our son is safe on his phone. We have to talk about texting, SEXting, bullying, cyber-bullying, stranger-danger and all the things that we might not want to. Cell phones and especially smartphones have brought our kids to a whole new ballgame. We didn’t have those things when we were kids and some of the dangers that exist now, didn’t exist then. Or at least, they weren’t as accessible then.
Let your kids know that once they put something on the internet, it is out there to stay! It doesn’t matter if they immediately delete it. It is there. There are already traces of that content, photo, etc. So if they post a racy photo or ugly comment, it’s out there forever!
I heard a really great quote at the AT&T webinar the other day. I can’t remember which blogger said it (so if you read this let me know so I can credit you) but she said:
“If you wouldn’t do it in front of your momma, you don’t need to do it!” And that is exactly what I am teaching my kids. If it is something they feel they need to sneak around to do or they feel they need to be overly-private, then that is something they need to stop doing. DON’T DO IT! PERIOD.
So, you can see, there is a lot of thought, preparation, action and even some prevention involved when deciding if your child is ready for a cell phone or not. BE CONSTANTLY AWARE of your childs activities when you give them this responsibility. And explain to them that it is exactly that. A new responsibility and one that they need to take care with. Jut like driving. There are dangers out there they aren’t aware of as a child that are very real and using a cell phone, especially a smartphone brings those dangers closer to your child easier than ever.
I have a pdf you can download from the webinar that is more in depth than my post here. It contains cell phone purchase/use tips and advice for all age ranges.
AT&T Family Safety Facilitator Guides FINAL 10 22 12
Be sure to also attend the AT&T Mobile Safety Twitter party on October 30 at 2p ET! The hashtag is #ATTMobileSafety, and here is the Twtvite for more information: http://twtvite.com/attmobilesafety
Disclosure: This is a compensated post provided by The Motherhood and AT&T. All opinions are my own.