When your child gets a first phone

Sooner or later, little Jimmy will come up with the question most parents expect to hear, “Mammy, when can I get my own phone?”

So, when the time comes for parents to respond to their children’s request to have their own device, what should parents consider?

1. First off, there is the question of what kind of phone and how much should one spend? Phones can vary greatly in price and functionality. Many are designed for short term use and within a short number of years, new updates may render a working device incapable of operating. For this reason, it may be a good idea not to start out by paying a lot of money for an expensive smart phone.

2. There are also concerns as to how the phone is to be used and monitored. Once ‘owned,’ children see the phone as belonging to them and so can be prone to spending too much time with it to the detriment of life relationships and quality study.

3. It is useful for parents to agree to a set of rules with their children around the use of phones, such as limited use at certain times of the day, periods of non-use or no phone permitted at dining times.

4. It is important to make sure that apps are all up-to-date. Apps are available on the Google Play and Apple App Stores These are released to make sure that the underlying operating system continues to work smoothly as technology advances.

5. Always make sure that the password you create is known to you alone. It is always a good idea to take extra precautions when creating a password by using a mixture of letters and digits as well as special characters where permitted. Such measures increase your security and drastically hamper any unwarranted access from any potential hacks.

6.As with any device, moderate use is best advised. No one wants to be disrupted from their sleep patterns with the late-night buzzing of alerts. Nor do we want to have any eye sight deterioration as a result of excessive screen viewing. A balanced approach is always best practice.

Perhaps the most serious consideration for parents when children come to use a phone for the first time is the pressure that exists to participate in social media platforms. Many learn from friends about their presence on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and the likes. It can all sound so interesting and something of which we want to a part. Soon however, we begin to discover that not everyone thinks the same.

Characters can create false or even use their true profiles to use platforms to hurt others through agenda driven slurs and disrespect with mocking or insulting undignified words.

Such personal attacks can add much stress and hardship to the lives of those who are unable to process what is going on. All of this activity is more prevalent in a world that places such a strong emphasis on image and creates unrealistic demands for young people to be to be accepted by peer groups and friends.

Setting clear boundaries for the use of phones is ultimately about being positive and having regular chats about the nature of content viewed. This raises awareness for parents and gives a platform for the beginners to ask questions, learn how to assess their communications, and find new perspectives as they gain more experience.

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