Kids today seem like they were born with a phone in their hands. There is so much technology available to them, most of which we as parents never had growing up. I can still remember changing the TV channel with my foot while laying on the ground in front of it.
Now entertainment can be found at every turn. You don’t have to look hard to find something you want to watch, listen to, read, or play. There is just so much content to consume, and our kids are so used to it that it seems they can pick up new technology at the drop of a hat.
Teaching Involves More than How To Use It
Just like you wouldn’t throw your child into the deep end of the pool and expect them to swim, you shouldn’t expect them to know how to navigate tech safely without teaching them the basics. Even though your child understands how the technology works naturally, they don’t have enough real world experience to understand the dangers that are also associated with the technology. It is up to us as parents to teach our kids in stages, so by the time they hit adulthood, they can use technology as the tool it should be and avoid developing unhealthy tech habits.
The first thing you need to do is to learn about the technology you are planning on introducing to your child. If you are planning on getting a phone for your child, don’t just buy the same phone you have. Do some research on which phone will be best for your child to start with. If your child wants a video game, make sure you check the game’s ESRB rating, and do some other research into the gameplay.
Technology often presents loopholes and unseen dangers. Get to know what the device, app, or game does so you can make the right choices for your family. Does the device have any built-in controls you can activate? Can you make it safer for your child? These are all questions you need to find the answers to before you purchase any type of technology for your child.
Allow Age-Appropriate Technology
As you are doing your research, make sure you understand the age recommendations for various apps, games, and devices, and purchase age-appropriate technology. Most social media apps require the user to be at least 13 years old. Following the rules established by the company producing the technology sets a great example to your kids that in your house you follow the rules. If you allow them to break the rules to get an account, it just shows your child that your rules about technology also do not need to be followed.
The Communication Device Path
As far as communication devices go, providing your child with age-appropriate devices is a great way to help them understand how to use their device as a tool. For early-elementary-aged kids screen free devices like the Relay Pro or a kids smartwatch like the Gizmo are great ways to help them keep in touch with the people who are important, but still keep them safe from the online world.
Once kids graduate from those simple devices to wanting an actual phone, the next step would be a kids safe smartphone like those from Troomi. These phones allow kids access to some apps that have been specifically curated while keeping them safe from social media as well as other dangers and distractions.
After your child has shown they can handle the responsibility that comes with a kidsafe smartphone like Troomi, they can graduate to a standard smartphone. Our recommendation would be to start your child out with an Android device) with some parental controls and monitoring in place to help keep them safe, especially in the beginning.
As your child grows, you can remove various parental controls and restrictions step-by-step until they are 18 years old and they are ready to manage themselves in the real world!