4 Experts Share Teen Mobile Phone Safety Tips

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July 15, 2016

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This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!


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Table of Contents

4 Experts Share Teen Mobile Phone Safety Tips an Expert Guest Blog SmartSocial.com

If you have a teen or tween, you know the challenges of screen time and giving them unlimited access to the internet via a mobile device. As a parent you want to feel comfortable giving your tween a smartphone and have confidence that they will use the device in a positive and productive way. We found several experts to share some of their best teen mobile phone tips to determining the right time to give your tween a phone, teaching tweens how to be productive on their phones and how to use smartphones to become closer as a family.

What are the benefits of giving teens and tweens smartphones and what's your best teen mobile safety advice?

1. Smartphones allow you to know your child is safe

Nick Droege, SafeTrek

Nick Droege headshot
Nick Droege

We live in an increasingly unpredictable world and smartphones have a huge role to play in making the day just a little more predictable. The top reason for parents deciding to purchase a phone for their children is to stay in touch and know they are safe. The technology on smartphones is only improving as time goes on. Smartphones have become a medium for parents to give their children the independence they want while also giving themselves the peace of mind to know their kids are safe. To those concerned about the downfalls of their tweens having smartphones: how your kids use their phones is ultimately up to the rules you establish with them from the very beginning. Make your dinner table, home, or vacations phone-free times, but don’t let your concern of overuse and abuse keep you from providing your children with the best tool for them to get help if they ever need it.  

2. Create a smartphone agreement as a family

Varda Meyers Epstein, Kars4Kids

Varda Meyers Epstein headshot
Varda Meyers Epstein

It’s best to start tweens on no-frills cellphone, before graduating him or her to a smartphone. Kids should understand that having a phone is a privilege, not a right, and be willing to prove they have earned that privilege. Let your child show he is responsible by getting his homework done on time; and completing his household chores consistently, each day or week, as the case may be.Once the child shows he is a responsible phone users, parents can graduate the child to a smartphone. Once this is done, parents should work up a smartphone agreement for the child to read and sign.

The agreement should outline details such as:

  • Who buys the phone and pays for its usage
  • Whether or not the child is allowed to take the phone to school
  • Time of day the child is allowed to use the phone
  • What is considered appropriate online behavior (this should be detailed and explain what is and isn’t appropriate to share online, and how to deal with stranger danger and cyberbullying)
  • What type of monitoring software will be installed on the smartphone with a notation that this is non-negotiable
  • Under what circumstances (for instance, behavior changes) the smartphone can be taken away
  • What will happen in the event the smartphone is lost or broken

3. Smartphones create an opportunity to have an open dialogue with your tween

Nancy Weinstein, Mindprint Learning

Nancy Weinstein headshot
Nancy Weinstein

Benefits of a cell phone can extend well beyond knowing when and where to pick up your child, especially for students with anxiety, social challenges or learning differences.

Reassurance: For children who are anxious in new situations, a cell phone can be great reassurance. Knowing a parent is only a discreet text message away if things get tough can give a child the courage to tackle that new situation on his own.

Avoiding Peer Pressure: Peer pressure is a very real problem. While all students need to learn to “just say no,” a discreet come get me text message can be a lifesaver in a tough situation where a student is uncomfortable.

Better Communication: The reality is that many kids are more comfortable texting than speaking. A simple “hi and how was your day” might lead to a good dialogue. And once they’ve opened up, there will be opportunities to continue the conversation in person.

Learning Supports: Technology can be a life-changer for kids with learning and attention weaknesses. The option to record notes in class, keep an electronic to-do list, or have a dictionary easily accessible are just a few examples.

4. Younger tweens might be more receptive to learning teen mobile safety

Robin Taylor, Rakkoon

Robin Taylor headshot
Robin Taylor

It's a smart move for parents to give kids their first cellphone before they turn into teenagers. As the mother of four kids (8,10,12& 14), whose job requires more than a passing knowledge of how teens and tweens use their smartphones, I have some experience with this dilemma. And while my advice might seem like a radical departure from conventional wisdom, consider this:

Your average 11-year-old may actually be more receptive to learning to use a smartphone safely and sensibly than the average 13-year-old. There’s ample evidence that by the time kids hit puberty, their brains are programmed to seek out risks and to push toward peers and away from parents. There's an argument to be made that an 11-year-old, whose brain is not yet flooded with adolescent hormones, is in a more stable position to appreciate the risks of smartphone use than his future 13-year-old self.

Teaching kids how to be sensible with a smartphone is also a long process. So giving your 11-year-old their first phone—and letting them internalize the basic lessons of smartphone safety well-before their life becomes cluttered by peer pressure and poor adolescent judgment—really might be the smartest choice.

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