5 Tips On Teaching Your Kids Phone Safety
A kid’s first phone is a huge deal. It’s an exciting day when they finally get one of their own and hold that gadget in their hand. For parents, however, that moment is just one more milestone they have to learn how to navigate.
Like many other life changes, this one can be scary. Your kid’s first phone presents a range of new challenges and worries. If you don’t know the ins and outs of cell phone safety, your kid’s new device could be dangerous.
Fortunately, you can reduce your stress when introducing your kid to their first phone. It all starts with teaching them about phone safety. Here are the top five things you should consider when you’re getting ready to buy that new phone:
1. Start Simple
The first thing your kid should know is that a cell phone today is more than just a phone. It’s a high-tech gadget with tons of features and capabilities. It’s essentially a mini computer.
Your kid’s eyes might get round with excitement, thinking a phone with all the trimmings is wonderful. But such a phone may not be the best one to start with. Minimal features might be in their — and your — best interests.
If you’re just looking for calling and texting capabilities, you should consider a kids phone. A simple starter phone could be just what you need. It allows kids to stay connected with friends and family, but it doesn’t have features — internet access, social media — that might worry a parent.
Starter phones are a great way to take baby steps before giving your child the responsibility of a real smartphone. Selecting a phone for kids will make this milestone easier.
2. Know How To Spot Cyberbullying
A kid’s first phone opens the door to a whole new way of communicating. Whether they have access to social media or not, they’ll still be talking to friends. Even the simplest kids’ phones allow for standard text messaging.
As much as you don’t want to think about your kid being bullied, it happens. Kids can be mean to each other. And it’s easier when they have a screen to hide behind.
Thankfully, there are great cyberbullying resources online for parents to consult. Make sure you and your child both know how to spot bullying when it happens. Then you can take the right steps to put a stop to it.
3. Limit Screen Time
Phones are an exciting new possession for a kid. They can use them to take pictures, watch videos, and — depending on their phone’s features — even play games. But watch out for too much of a good thing.
Along with these great features comes a risk to your child. They can become addicted to the screen if you’re not carefully monitoring the time they spend on it.
Keep track of your kid’s phone usage and schedule breaks. Their phone shouldn’t turn into their whole life. Instead, it should serve as a communication tool and something they’re entrusted with when they earn it.
4. Keep Things Private
As soon as your kid gets their first phone, their life will suddenly become more public. They can text their friends and (again, depending on the phone) easily set up social media accounts. They don’t just live their regular kid life anymore. They have a virtual life on their phone as well.
Teach your kid the importance of privacy so they stay safe. Below are three topics to discuss before you let them loose with their new phone.
A phone holds a lot of private information. Who knows what could happen if your kid’s device ends up in the wrong person’s hands? This is why secure passwords are so important.
Help your child set strong passwords for their phone and all their accounts. Also, keep track of those passwords yourself. That way, you’ll be prepared if they forget one of them. You’ll also be ready if anything needs to be investigated.
Social Media Sharing
Not every parent will opt for a phone that allows their kid to create social media accounts. If you do, impress upon them the dangers of sharing too much online. Here are a few tips about social media privacy to share with your child:
- Limit virtual friends to real-life friends. And don’t accept every request.
- Adjust your privacy settings so that only friends can see your full profile.
- Don’t share every detail about yourself, even on a profile you keep mostly private.
- Be thoughtful about what you post so that you don’t regret it later.
- Don’t share personal photos.
Social media is becoming commonly used among most age groups. This is why it’s important for parents to teach their kids how to safely use these platforms early on.
Exchanging Phone Numbers
Make sure your kid knows that they shouldn’t share their number with just anyone. If they wouldn’t talk to someone much in person, then they probably shouldn’t be exchanging numbers.
Even if they’re feeling social pressure to share information, teach your kid that it’s OK not to. If someone really wants to share their number, your child can write it down. They still don’t have to give out their own.
In general, it’s best to teach kids who are new to cell phones that less is more. Oversharing can only lead to trouble, and remaining private has fewer consequences.
5. Teach Them How To Deal With Unknown Numbers
When you have a phone, you’re bound to get calls from unknown numbers. It’s inevitable. A kid with a phone runs the same risk. However, they might not understand how to deal with these situations.
More often than not, an unknown caller means no harm. It could just be a friend or family member whose number they haven’t yet saved. It could be a simple wrong number — mistakes happen!
Your child needs to be confident enough to ask unknown callers and texters who they are up front. Also, teach them how to recognize and report a scammer if they get a suspicious call.
As a parent, it’s normal to feel worried about introducing your kid to their first phone. The last thing you want is for them to be exposed to something dangerous at a young age. Fortunately, you can do a lot to mitigate the risk.
Take phone safety seriously, and instruct your kid on what they should and shouldn’t do. You’ll have more peace of mind knowing you’ve done your best to keep your child from harm.