Now that we have the convenience of technology we have the dilemma of when to introduce them to it as well as the struggle to keep up with the terrifyingly fast advancements ourselves.
So when is it the right time to allow your offspring to connect? Buy them their own phone? Cheap phone, or the one with all the bells and whistles and access to apps and never-ending chatter?
Leonie Smith, a cyber safety educator, suggests age is not a deciding factor, making the decision a whole lot trickier for parents. “It’s based on what your child’s needs are”.
Keeping in touch when they’re out, co-ordinating pick ups, and in an emergency, are all valid reasons for their first phone. If your intention is a responsibility you grant your children rather than a new gadget/toy, the road ahead may be a little less fraught with the pitfalls of whopping bills with game app purchases or downloading free messaging or dating services that can put them at risk.
“Children are more exploratory and most parents I know have their heads in the sand when it comes to social media and smart phones”, she explains.
So a few tips to avoid issues ahead:-
- Start off with a cheap flip phone you can limit the numbers dialled in and out
- Find a cheap phone plan
- Set clear rules about usage
- Communicate with other parents about their experiences and opinions
- Be a realistic role model – if your phone is glued to your face or fingers racing across the screen incessantly, don’t expect your children to behave differently.
Like most things when it concerns your mini-me’s, learn what they’re up to and keep the lines of communication open with “face time” because hanging out with your children is still what matters most.