Best Practices For Family Smartphone Usage

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Children are getting cell phones at younger and younger ages. We thought we would share a few “best practices” for family cell phone usage.

Consider having a central charging station in a common area.
Children or tweens should not have a need for a cell phone after bedtime. Having the phone charge in a central location like the kitchen or master bedroom removes the temptation to text or play games. It also keeps chil- dren safer from a variety of online problems. If children are hesitant because they need an alarm, travel alarm clocks are available at most superstores.

Always have access to your children’s passwords. I think it goes without saying that children and tweens should not be trusted to determine who is safe online.

It may be necessary to have the password for your teen’s accounts as well. Safety from bullying and predators posing as other children is vitally important and children may not understand the risks that come with smartphones.

Talk to your children about phone etiquette.

Polite phone behavior is important at this age. It is good to start a habit now so that your children understand how and when to talk or text when they are in school or on the job. Help your chil- dren understand that talking in a quiet voice or excusing oneself is the polite thing to do when a call comes in while in the presence of others. It is also important to help children understand that being on the phone, texting or scrolling while they are in the company of others, gives the impression that those they are with are less valu- able that what they are texting or looking at on their phone. Encourage them to put their phone away unless they are us- ing it for something very specific.

Disable the location feature on the camera. You and your family are going to take a lot of photos on your phone. Most phones will pin- point the exact location in which the photo was taken. Many times this points directly back to your home. It is safer to have this feature dis- abled.

Have a conversation with your children about the cost of having a device.
It is difficult for children to understand the con- cept of how much things cost. Perhaps make

a rule about what is expected financially if the phone is broken or lost before there is an issue. This may help children understand the impor- tance of protecting their device.

As parents talk about the money, they should also discuss the family policy concerning down- loading apps. Some apps have “in app” purchases. Parents could be hit with a very hefty phone bill if expecta- tions are not clear.

Discuss Photographs and the risks of posting them online. Talk about photos
and the importance of being responsible in posting them. Children may not have the capacity to understand the consequence of inappropriate photos being sent via text. Talk about this with your children and talk about it often. As your children become teens, it is even more important to discuss the legal implications that come with sharing inap- propriate photos.

Read the comments your children make and that are made on your children’s social media account.When many of us were young, our homes were a place we could escape when someone at school was being unkind.

That is no longer true when children have access to the Internet. It is important that parents monitor the conversations their children are involved in online. If your children are being bullied, or are bullying, parents need to intervene and help them learn to navigate a world that even many adults find difficult.

As adults we are the best examples for our children. The more we can model being present and making wise choices in our online interactions, the easier it will be when it is time to have a family smartphone use conver- sation.

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