It seems that kids younger and younger are getting cell phones these days. There are many good reasons to get your kids a cell phone and there are equally as many reasons to delay as long as possible. The question I hear from parents is how do I keep my kids safe online and yet let them enjoy the freedom of a cell phone. The balance of safety and security is not easy to maintain.
I used to be an advocate of waiting until kids are much older to get a cell phone. I have changed my mind, with the pervasiveness of technology and the easy access of porn you have to teach your kids at a young age how to use technology without being ruled by it. If you just hand your kids a cell phone without teaching them how to use it or placing safeguards around it you are crazy. I love you but you are crazy. Here are a few things we have done and are putting into practice with our oldest as he joins the millions of kids who are connected around the world. These are a work in progress.
- We wake up before our devices do, and they “go to bed” before we do. – Andy Crouch. No phones in bedrooms.
- We use Circle at home to filter content, enforce bedtime and to create timed boundaries. Circle is amazing! It is dead simple to set up it allows for a ton of flexibility you can filter and put time restrictions on individual apps. What’s also great about it is that it filters your internet so when friends come over it works on their device if they connect to your internet.
- We use Circle Go for on the go. We keep all our content and time filters in place on LTE and 4G cell phone coverage away from home. It has a monthly fee of 4.99 a month but is good for up to 10 devices.
- We use Life 360 to create digital fences that allow us to know when our child has left one place and arrived at another. This app also has functionality that monitors your kids driving their speed and disables texting when moving at a high rate of speed, it will also automatically call 911 if involved in an accident.
- Create a Cell Phone Contract. When they understand the privileges and responsibilities of having a phone. They also need to understand how to keep their phone and what will cause them to lose their phone privileges.
- We have the passwords to everything. Privacy is not an option for Jr. Highers. Parents read your children’s email and text messages its being loving, not nosey.
- We are designed for a rhythm of work and rest. So one hour a day, one day a week, and one week a year, we turn off our devices and worship, feast, play, and rest together. – Andy Crouch
- Use the early years to teach your kids the etiquette of texting and calling. Let them know when is appropriate to do either and when is appropriate to do neither.
- For us at least, no social media until High School – Junior High is difficult enough allowing bullies to reach into the sanctuary of your home through social media is not worth the benefit.
The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place – Andy Crouch
Should I Just Smash My Kids Phone. Jonathan Mckee & Doug Fields
Parent Chat: The Technology Chat for Every Family – Matt Mckee
12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You. Tony Reinke