Have you just gotten your teenager a mobile phone but you’re not even sure yourself about phone safety? Buying a first phone is a big decision, but handled correctly it can bring parents the ultimate peace of mind. A phone comes with lots of benefits (contacting kids in an emergency, for one) so here’s how to make sure its used safely.
We all know kids will clamour to own their own phone from almost the time they can talk- and in many ways a mobile is a great way to teach them about responsibility, budgeting and safety. Just be sure to start out on the right foot (with a kid friendly mobile phone plan, and a mobile plan with unlimited talk and text!).
Here are some big pluses for phone ownership:
Kids owning phones: The benefits
- Kids may find communicating big feelings (like apologies, or anxieties) easier in a text or call
- Kids can learn about being responsible for their things (and hopefully extend it their other stuff!)
- Phone ownership introduces conversations about online safety, peer pressure and limit setting
- A value phone plan or a ‘no lock in contract’ choice can teach kids about the value of money and budgeting
- Kids can extend their areas of interest by using educational apps, exploring passion projects or trying coding
- You can contact your child in case of emergency, and they can reach you too (or if they just miss the bus!)
- If you share passwords and monitor data usage your child can benefit from a mobile without you worrying!
The most impactful choice you can make is starting out with a plan that allows you complete control over your child’s data and spending. A phone with no lock-in contracts and a value phone plan is recommended, such as a mobile plan with unlimited talk and text (like this one we love from amaysim).
Kids and phone safety: The basics
If you have just given your teenager a mobile phone, you’re probably keen to make sure they’re safe when online (and perhaps you’re wondering if your own internet know-how is up to date!).
Here are some common focuses for parents:
- Encouraging safe behaviour online
- Preventing phone misuse and limiting the data they are allowed (so you don’t get hit with a shock bill!)
- Talking to kids about cyber bullying, predators or hackers and ensure they can seek help if they need it
Making online experiences fun (and safe) for kids:
Encourage safe behaviour online: Educate your family about how to identify red flags on the internet, and set rules around what kinds of personal information is OK to reveal online. Remember, you have a responsibility to keep up-to-date about challenges kids face online, such as the latest online trends or viral challenges they may be tempted to try! Reinforce that it’s important they don’t succumb to peer pressure and do anything they are not comfortable with, online or offline. The internet is an amazing and diverse place, which connects us to loved ones around the world, helps educate us and creates a global community that is a privilege to be part of; by following a few guidelines, your child can benefit from this wealth of knowledge.
Prevent phone misuse: When it comes to your child’s phone use, device settings and parental controls are your best friend! You can restrict the types of content your child can view and monitor their activity. You can oversee app purchases, prevent phone misuse and keep an eye on that data! Doing this makes sure you’re not going to suddenly find out that innocent app cost you a bomb in hidden purchases. We like a ‘pay as you go’ system (like this kid-friendly mobile phone plan from amaysim) that allows you to monitor data.
Keep the conversation going: The internet changes every day. Speak to the safeguarding lead within your child’s school should you have any concerns regarding your child’s online activity or malicious content that could affect them. If your child sees something distressing, it is important that they know where to go to seek help and who their trusted adults are. For more help, visit the The National Online Safety group or contact Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800, where a trained counsellor will listen to anything that’s worrying your child.
Looking for value phone plans, no lock in contracts and the ability to monitor data? Start off the right way with amaysin and their unlimited talk and text plans, and kid-friendly mobile phone plans. You can find out more on their Facebook page, here.