There are advantages to letting a child have the responsibility of their own cell phone. You may feel safer knowing your child can always reach you, especially if your child is involved in after-school activities or spends time away from home with friends. If you plan on allowing a cellphone, there are things young children should know about cell phone usage.
Your Child Should Know the Limits You Impose
Your child should understand how to use their new cell phone responsibly. This responsibility includes the restrictions you impose. You may be fine with them texting a small circle of friends, but do not want them on social media. Usage restrictions are yours to decide.
Your child should also know the differences between appropriate and inappropriate pictures, the differences between a joke and bullying, and the importance of reporting any improper behavior.
Your Child Should Know How to Use the Phone
It may be advisable to show your child how to make a call, pick up a call, send a text, add contact information and take a picture. That way you both know how to use their phone. This may save you from problems down the road if you want your child to call you or send a message. If you let your child have a smartphone, show them how to access the internet. You still have the option of installing an app for parental control and monitoring.
Children Should Know That Personal Information Should be Private
Remind your child about the importance of privacy and not giving out personal information without your consent. A good example would be your address. While it may be fine to text your address to a friend who will be visiting, that is not the same as posting the address on social media. Children need to understand that people they do not know can access everything they post online. You may want to warn them about the dangers of conversing with people they don’t know and picking up calls from numbers they don’t recognize.
Understanding Cell Phone Manners
Children mimic what they see. Explain good cell phone manners to your child before you hand over a phone. It will be easier for them to start using their phone with good habits than it will be to try to break bad habits after they’re learned. You may also want to teach your child about having private conversations in public places, and the importance of spending time with people without constant interruptions.
The best way to remind children of good cell phone manners is to set an example. Only you can decide if your child is mature enough to own a cell phone. Before giving your child a phone, be sure to teach your child what you feel they need to know about cell phone usage.