Whenever Apple announces a new batch of iPhones, like they did last week, we know there are smartphones of previous generations that get handed down. Many times, these are the first smartphones for kids, and the age they get these phones continues to get younger. We know that because the average age of a child getting their first smartphone is now 10.3 years old. So whether your home is in line with that average or not, chances are, if your kid doesn’t have a smartphone, they probably really, really want one. Here are some valuable things to consider and take action on as your kid’s enter the world of smartphones.
Settings: As they get started, it’s a good idea for you to go through and make sure their settings are in a good place. You should probably turn off in-app purchases and limit certain downloads that are not age appropriate. You can also restrict downloads of certain apps or movies if they are using your app store credentials.
Talk About Safety: Online safety is something you might have already covered with your kids since this is undoubtedly not their first exposure to the internet, but when they have their very own, somewhat private access with a new phone of their own, it’s a great time for a refresher. Here are a couple of articles that might help when it comes to online safety and cyberbullying.
House Rules: In some homes, a smartphone contract might be a good idea. It can lay out your expectations, some ground rules, and consequences if those rules aren’t followed. If that feels too formal, then you should have a few basic rules at the very least. Things like “No phone until homework is done” or “Phones must be turned in at bedtime” are good examples. With the research about how many teens are checking their phones multiple times per night instead of sleeping, turning devices in before bed seems like a great rule.
Social Media: This is another conversation that you might have had already, but it bears revisiting with that bright, shiny, new smartphone in the picture. Explaining to your children about the dangers and the public nature of most social media apps is an important conversation to have. There is no need to demonize it, but at the same time, kids often are clueless when it comes to the dangers that exist. For more on this, here is a great resource.