A couple of weekends ago I was extremely lucky to attend a webinar with The Motherhood and Lesley Backus and Whaewon Choi of Fleishman-Hillard, who worked with AT&T to develop the Mobile Safety School. It was a very eye opening conversation. The ladies in the blogging community chatted about the topics as we listened and it was amazing how we all approached the use of mobile phones with our children.
I had no idea that many children get their first phone at just over 12 yrs old! lol My son didn’t get his first phone until 2 months ago, after our Valleyfair incident and he’s paying for it with his own money! He’s 13. I’d have to say this follows our family’s pattern because my girls shared a phone when they were about the same age. It makes sense to me since kids at this age become busier outside the home with school activities and social lives.
One thing I have yet to understand is why a child would need a smartphone, especially as young as 13. I only got one 2 yrs ago and that is for my blogging/online work. My oldest 2 girls don’t have smartphones and they’re 21 and 19. And seriously, I have no desire to drop $30ish for each line on a kids data plan!
I love hearing how the other bloggers attending the webinar handle phones with their children. Some, like myself will take it away as punishment, although it sounds like kids would care more about losing time on the computer than losing their phones. Thankfully with my son I haven’t had to take it away, but I did with my older daughter.
I’m not surprised to learn that most families who have kids with cell phones, stay in touch by text messages. The first couple of days Buddy had his phone, he messaged me in the same room. lol It was amusing to say the least. He’s also learned very quickly to pay attention to who he’s messaging. He’s sent me messages several times thinking he’d sent them to someone else. Hopefully a lesson learned!
My son and I are having a much different conversation now than I did with my daughters 8 yrs ago. I didn’t have to really even have one with them. People weren’t sexting or texting like bandits. The girls were mostly calling me to come pick them up from a school event or from a friend’s house. Now I have to talk to my son about phone etiquette and what’s appropriate use of the phone at what isn’t.
It was pretty cool that tonight we were talking about how he would put his phone on silent for the people who aren’t on the same carrier as us so that way he never answered their phone calls. We are very limited with our voice use so I’m glad he’s paying attention! Thank goodness texting is unlimited!
AT&T shared some really good points that I want to pass on to you, especially if you have older kids as now is a good time to establish guidelines:
1. Model good behavior. Turn off your mobile phones and electronic devices during dinner or while participating in family activities. Children will feel more compelled to follow rules if everyone in the family abides by them.
2. Pay attention. Know where your kids go online and what they’re doing there.
3. Impart our values. Cheating, lying and being cruel online or on the phone are not acceptable. The concepts of right and wrong should extend to a child’s online and mobile life.
4. Establish limits. Set clear time or texting limits and time-of-day restrictions so children know when it’s appropriate to use mobile phones or technology.
5. Encourage balance. Support their interest in offline activities that don’t require a gadget or mobile device.
6. Make kids accountable. Using digital media is a privilege. Consider asking your child to complete more essential tasks, like chores, homework or family time, before letting him get on the internet or text with friends.
7. Explain what’s at stake. Remind kids that what they do today can be used against them tomorrow, especially when their actions are online.
8. Do your homework. Research the websites your kids visit, the songs they download, etc. Stay tuned into how and why they’re using technology so they don’t have free reign. Consider setting up social media profiles to see how your children interact online and to help demonstrate responsible use.
I also want to suggest we not think our kids are above doing something inappropriate with their phones whether it’s pranking, bullying, sexting, what-have-you. Our kids are still kids and can make the wrong choices. It’s important for us as parents to check in with our kids and to remember we’re the ones who control the phones and their use. If our kids make the wrong choice, there should be natural consequences.
On the flip side, if they make good choices by staying within their allotted usage, use good language, and so on, maybe they can have a new app or some extra messaging over the weekend. We can get creative as parents with our rewards for showing our kids we approve of their good choices!
How are you handling phone privileges with your kids? How old was your child when they got their first phone?
Please be sure to join AT&T and TheMotherhood.com for a Mobile Safety Twitter party on Friday, Nov. 9 at 2p ET! The hashtag is #ATTMobileSafety. You can learn more details at http://twtvite.com/attmobilesafety You’ll be excited to learn what they’re giving away along with the safety information they’ll be sharing!
*This post is sponsored by TheMotherhood.com and AT&T Mobile Safety. The information I’ve shared is mine and not influenced by the company.