Cell phones in our kids’ lives
Today most of our kids (even the young ones) have smartphones. And they learn to use them at an early age. Some parents are less aware of their cell phone functions than kids under 10. We, parents, are usually happy to know that we can contact our kids any time we need. And we tend not to put a large focus on possible problems like screen time issues, phone addiction and even mental health issues.
And yes, smartphones, computers and tablets can actually improve our lives and the lives of our kids. At least in some respects. There’s no getting away from the fact that they can also make our life worse though. When we’re preoccupied with the cell phones we can get distracted such that we ignore the world and the people around us. Perhaps it’s time to revisit some basic cell phone rules for kids under 10.
Guidance still needed
Our kids need to understand the truth about the benefits and problems smartphones can produce. It would be great if they learned it from their parents. No matter how technologically advanced our kids might be we’re still responsible to provide some guidance for them.
Cell phone rules for kids under 10
So here are some basic cell phone rules for kids under 10 but they can be used for older kids as well. We should teach our kids these simple principles to encourage good technology habits:
- Answering parent’s calls immediately or as soon as reasonably possible is a widely used rule and it makes a lot of sense. The primary purpose of smartphone is still for communication after all!
- Kids must know their parent’s number (and preferably another trustworthy person’s too) as well as the main emergency numbers (i.e. 911 in the USA). Surprisingly, while many kids know how to make a phone call, not so many know who to call in the case of emergency. You have to remember that some phone models may have a “panic button” as well as some parental control apps may support this option.
- They must learn to keep their number private and not give it to strangers (this should become part of a wider understanding of social safety and the importance of protecting all of their personal data).
- Children shod as soon as possible alert their parents if they get suspicious call or text
- There should be some phone-free time each day. This might include time during the family meal, time in school and when they’re doing homework. The phone should be turned off after 9 p.m. – no texts or calls or watching video in internet. A parental control app installed on the kid’s phone can be a big support for following up on this rule.
- They should not text while walking or make a call while crossing the street – it can be dangerous. It’s easy for pedestrians to become “smartphone zombies” and provoke traffic incidents, putting themselves and others at risk.
- Kids should not make in-app purchases without preliminary permission from their parents.
- Kids should be aware of the basics of phone call etiquette and conduct themselves accordingly. This includes
- being polite during a phone conversation,
- not sending mean messages to others (via text or in online chat),
- not calling every 15 seconds if another person is busy and can’t take a call etc. Some parents use a form of contract to list these rules.
- The phone should not be used for bullying others.
- Children should respect school rules regarding smart phones and the smart phone regulations in public places like cinema or café.
- There should be limit for the number of text messages per each day
- In case when the phone is broken through the fault of a child, he has to be ready cover at least some part of the repairmen cost (or purchase the new one) from his own money.
- The general thing is that the child must understand – cell phone is a privilege not a right and can be taken away any time if he doesn’t follow the rules above.
This list is far from complete. Some of the rules are needed for younger kids but potentially not for older ones. It will be wise to specify that parents also take some responsibilities like promising to answer child’s call as soon as possible, being a good example of dealing with the screen time issues and etc.
Some form of parent/child phone contract can be an excellent and easy way of teaching your child these rules. At least, it can be a good starting point.
Maybe you even disagree with some of its points completely. What would you add to it? What would you change? Let us know in the comments section.