Although buying your child a camera-equipped, web-enabled smartphone presents some risks, there are also opportunities. One of the more positive aspects of owning a smartphone is that it can teach responsibility. And that doesn’t just mean not losing or breaking the phone. Instead, phone ownership can be used to encourage a more responsible approach in many other areas of your child’s life.
The Online Mom recently partnered with mobile security company Lookout to produce Generation Smartphone: A Guide for Parents of Tweens & Teens. The guide outlines the important steps that parents can take to prepare their children for owning a smartphone or other digital device. Here are four suggestions from the guide on building responsibility:
Have your child contribute to the bill.
Phones incur one-time and ongoing expenses. This creates an ongoing opportunity for parents to teach their kids about money, bill-paying and financial priorities.
Even tweens can be more aware of how much their phone bill is on a monthly basis and can take on additional chores or allocate a portion of their allowance to cover some of their own phone costs. Older kids might even be able to cover some or all of the bill themselves, as well as actually going through the logistical process of making the monthly bill payment when it is due. One late payment resulting in suspended phone service will be a vivid lesson on the importance of on-time bill payment, without impairing anyone’s credit report.
Smartphone kids of all ages can also be held responsible to pay or work off some or all of the costs of replacing or repairing a damaged phone.
Show them love, via text.
Tweens and Teens love to communicate via text – period. So, if your kid is the type to participate in a dinner table conversation primarily through grunts, try engaging them via text message. Tell them you love them, or use a conversation starter, like “If you could invent anything, what would it be?”
Incentivize them with expanded phone privileges.
If you have a younger tween with a tight set of phone usage rules or a teen who has lost some phone privileges, make sure you help them understand how they can earn back your trust and phone privileges. It might be phone-related behavior, like being consistent about calling you back in a timely manner or no more phone trouble at school – or it might be unrelated behavior, like doing chores without prompting or maintaining a certain level of grades.
Encourage them to use their phone in a balanced way.
As parents, we don’t always use our phones for things like talking and texting – we also use them to shop, bank, share family photos and manage our grocery lists and errands. Here are some examples of productive phone use:
- Do the math when we’re shopping or cooking together
- Research the answers to questions that come up in conversation or while doing homework
- Download safe, fun apps from safe sources (i.e., the Apple Store and Google Play) that offer content on current events, natural history, math or all of the above!
A full copy of Generation Smartphone: A Guide for Parents of Tweens & Teens can be downloaded here.
The above article is reproduced from TheOnlineMom.com, a website dedicated to promoting a healthy understanding and appreciation of the positive role technology can play in family life.