Hello, hello! Hope you all are doing great today. Cell phones (and smartphone addiction) are big topics in the world today, and they certainly have provoked a lot of discussion in our household. It seems like younger and younger children are getting their hands on the latest technology. I know that my kids are always pushing me for more time on phones, as well as more game-time at home. But I’ve always worried about the safety of kids using cell phones. Plus I worry about what my kids are NOT doing when they’re on a phone, i.e. reading or playing. Here are some strategies I’ve come up with on how to monitor your child’s cell phone use. I hope they come in handy in this smartphone-obsessed world of ours and I would love to hear yours so please comment below with those!
10 Strategies for Tracking Your Child’s Cell Phone Use
- Avoid taking the phone away completely: For starters, besides being useful for text updates when your kids are out with friends, cell phones are good to have around in case of emergencies. Avoid taking your kid’s cell phone away completely just for the sake of controlling their use.
- Set ground rules : To keep your child from using their cell phone ALL DAY LONG, set some rules for use inside of the house. For instance, limit cell phone use to before a certain time at night. I prohibit cell phone use during dinner (a rule my husband often breaks — grrr) and during family events.
- Inform your child : Remind your child of the scary things that can lurk online (cyber bullies, etc) and that you will be checking in on their activity. I actually have been advised to read my kids’ texts just in case. I’m hoping that being upfront and honest will keep my kids from thinking we are “spying.”
- Install monitoring apps: Consider apps to help you monitor your child’s use. One example is TeenSafe, which lets you as the parent monitor text messages, apps, and internet activity.
- Buy simple phones/plans; One sure way to limit your child’s use is to limit data. My son recently told me he couldn’t download a game because he had no more space — bingo! For sure, your child will want to use their phone to check in with friends, but encourage quick check-ins, not clinging onto the phone as a way of life. Remind your child that the cell phone is for emergencies only, like to call you when they need a ride or to let you know their whereabouts. They still will feel in the loop with their friends but won’t spend as much time idly scrolling through apps and games.
- Look at messages together : Especially if you feel that a case of cyber bullying may have sprung up, review your child’s accounts together. Seek out any possible threats in messages and confront them as a family.
- Lead by example : If your child sees you on your phone at all hours of the day, it’s no wonder they would be racking up screen time. Be conscientious of your own phone time and the fact that you’re a role model. Parents who read tend to have children who read. Rather than playing games or perusing Facebook during each spare moment, pick up a real newspaper or book or spark a conversation with you child with your phone in your bag. Your normal will become their normal.
- Live tech-free for a day : As a family, try each week to make it one day (or half a day!) without using your phone. You’ll never believe the amazing things you can get accomplished and explore around you when you’re not constantly texting or checking the latest posts.
- Have them work for it : Remind your child that having a phone is a privilege, not a right, and that they’ll need to work for access to it, at least while they are under your roof. Give them the task of cleaning dishes before getting their phone back after dinner, for example. They will be much more appreciative of the time they actually get to use the phone and will also keep special family time tech-free. A win-win.
- Be open and honest : The internet can be a daunting and scary place for younger children. Sit your children down regularly and inquire sincerely if anything on their phone is making them uncomfortable. Knowing that they can talk to you will give them an outlet as soon as something comes up.
Moms and dads out there, any more advice on how to cut your kid’s cellphone addiction? What are your rules on tracking your child’s cell phone use at home and at school?
Thanks so much for reading!