Have a plan when giving your child their first smart phone
Have you ever wanted to go back in time and not give your child their first taste of candy? Or perhaps you wished you didn’t show your child their first episode of “Thomas the Tank Engine?” As parents, we know that a treat or indulgence we’re excited to share, can end up becoming the bane of our existence and the never-ending pleas for ‘just one more’ becomes routine.
Imagine that kind of regret, but multiple it by a really big number, and that’s what can happen when parents give their child their first smartphone without laying out a clear set of rules and expectations. We must do some research ahead of time and decide what restrictions should look like for the safety of our children.
Here are a few examples and questions to consider when thinking about giving your child their first smartphone. It is so much easier to start with limits in place, rather than backtracking after they’ve been accustomed to free-range use.
- What functionality should he/she have access to? Do you want them to have 24/7 access to the internet, social media apps, YouTube, and games? Maybe you want them to only use the phone, texting, camera, and music apps. Did you know you can turn off or on the majority of the phone’s functionality by going to its settings?
- What time are they allowed to use their phone? First thing in the morning, before even getting out of bed and ready for school? What about in the middle of the school day? Meal time? At bedtime in their room? The American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as other bodies of expertise, recommend that all screens be turned off at least 1 hour before bedtime and stay out of the bedroom at night. This helps to maximize a child’s ability to get good quality and adequate quantity of sleep.
- Who can your child text or call? Are they free to add any contacts they desire without your knowledge? Would you prefer to be notified and get the final say on what contacts your child may add and communicate with? There are apps and services that can be used to notify the parent when a new contact is added. Many have the option for the parent to approve the contact first.
These are a few of the decisions we parents need to make in advance of giving our children these wonderful, terrible, helpful, distracting, amazing, brain dopamine-triggering devices.
DISCLAIMER: The contents and opinions expressed by Everett Clinic teammates and providers on “A Healthier You” blog and those providing comments are theirs alone and are not a substitute for medical advice. Consult your own provider for personal health recommendations.
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