Responsibility and kids do not often come hand in hand, but parents are concerned about the increasing cases of young ones getting involved in cyber crimes. Though the biggest factor that fuels juvenile cyber crimes is peer influence, the risk can be effectively reduced or avoided altogether if a child learns the value of responsibility.
The initial step, of course, is to decide whether to hand a smartphone to your child in the first place. However, if it’s indeed within the needs of your child, to be used as a tool for schoolwork for instance, then be sure to make the proper arrangements.
Look for a device that’ll work best for you and for the need of your child. O2 and other data providers have interactive websites so take advantage of their tools such as ‘Compare devices’ or ‘Find your perfect phone’ or ‘Help me choose’ or other similar content to know which phone and plan to take.
When everything is done, then it’s time for the next step: to teach your child how to be responsible for his/her new device.
Talk to your child explain thoroughly why there are websites and apps that are not appropriate for him/her. It is advised that children should avoid social media platforms like Facebook unless they’re more than 9 years of age. The same goes for other websites that are inappropriate for children. It’s recommended to block all of these out.
This is because there is news and content on those platforms that cannot be easily regulated by the user. Sensual and racy images or videos, rant posts filled with foul words, etc. can all impact your child negatively. Tell your child that it’s better if you just don’t take your chances on such situations, and ensure him/her that the right time will come for these things.
Make Sure Limitations are Clear
Creating ‘device-free’ zones and hours in the home are a good way to start. Set rules such as “No phones while in dinner.” for example, or “Turn off devices before bedtime.” These will be great practices for your child to learn that there should be limits and self-control when it comes to mobile devices. Of course, you should lead by example, too, as this is one of the best ways for them to learn.
Let Your Child Know the Value of Hardwork
Responsibility and hard work go hand in hand. Allow your child to earn what you’ve given him/her. For example, come into an agreement that he/she will do more chores regularly as contribution for his/her new smartphone, or let your child put aside a small part of his/her allowance everyday until the cost of the phone is reached. You can secretly save it, then present it to your child when the time comes.
There are several other benefits from teaching these to your child at an early age. It instills a sense of achievement and esteem for him/her in knowing that the device was something they’ve worked hard for. Or if you went on with the allowance contribution, it’ll teach them the importance of handling and saving money. Additionally, it serves as a form of discipline.
Teach Your Child to Maintain the Device
Tell your child to take care of his/her new smartphone: to keep it safe, and not leave it unattended or not use it while in the public unless absolutely necessary; to not drop it and break it; and to clean it if need be. Make it clear that if the device is lost or broken, there will be no new phone for a long time.
Likewise, the phone’s apps and software must be maintained as well. Register the device with your provider to get important news and updates such as security upgrades. Set restrictions on downloading and/or installing new apps to let your child ask permission first on which apps to get.
It’s okay to let him/her get a new game or two that he/she wants every once in a while, but make it clear that it will not be the case all the time. Speak to your child and talk in detail about the difference of wants and needs. Just because he/she wants this app does not mean he/she needs it.
At the end of the day, letting your child learn tech responsibility is a start of something much bigger. In the long run, it’ll help him/her prepare for the real world by having a set of values which will take him/her far in life.
Exclusively written for KidzInMind
(Watch out for her blog soon!)