It used to be that having a conversation with your teen about the birds and the bees was the talk that every parent dreaded. These days, this awkward rite of passage is superseded by another potentially awkward conversation, as your child starts asking for their own cell phone, not wanting to be left out from the rest of their peers. Deciding on the kind of limits that you want to put in place to keep your teen safe from risky behavior can be a real challenge. Finding the right balance between giving them the freedom to make their devices their own while maintaining boundaries varies from family to family, and in some cases can differ between your children, but here are a few suggestions for how to plan out some basic ground rules for cell phone use.
Set Clear Time Limits
If you are like most smartphone owners, your phone has become an extension of your body with a constant stream of emails and other communications that are a part of a busy lifestyle. The problem is that this can set a bad example for our kids who will look to us when they are shaping their own mobile phone use.
So, how do we set clear expectations for our kids’ use?
Ideally we’d reform our own habits to set an example of how we would hope our children will behave towards their device, but this is not necessarily realistic. More realistically, set clear guidelines that lay out specific times when it is ok to use their devices, and when they need an electronic blackout. Family time such as dinner and other events should be a must, as well as when they have homework to complete.
It is also suggested based on research that exposure to LED screens before bed can disrupt sleep cycles, so it is recommended to define a ‘cool down’ period at the end of the night.
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Keep Communication Open and Build Trust
More than just a tool for communication, mobile devices contain a trove of personal information about us. Who we talk to, our pictures, which websites we visit. Having the ability to keep tabs on what our children are up to by looking at their mobile phones can be very tempting.
You need to remember though that trust is far more important than just having simple access. Children need to understand that while parents are in control, their private space will still be respected. It is reasonable to demand that your child give you the passwords for their phone and social media accounts, but having an overbearing approach can push them to close up and be uncooperative or, worse, secretive. Your children need to know that if they encounter an uncomfortable situation such as cyber bullying or predators on the web, that they can come to you for help.
One way of avoiding a heavy handed surveillance method is to add software like NetSpark Mobile. This service allows parents to preset limits on usage during certain times of the day, which websites and apps they will have access to, and offers protection against harmful content with high level content filtering, and other features that help your kids within the boundaries you set for them. This way, there is no need for constant monitoring their phone. Changes to the app’s settings can be made remotely from either your phone or browser. Parents can rest assured that NetSpark Mobile’s software is always working and hack proof.
Through building a relationship of clear expectations, open lines of communication, and established trust, your kids can develop healthy habits for smartphone use as they move towards greater independence.
Download the #1 Parental Control App by NetSpark Mobile :