The MySchoolWorx Community Blog

When smartphones + kids = good news

There seems to be no shortage of news about circumstances involving youth and cell phones. From bullying texts to predatory scares to an increase in nearsightedness, cell phones – and smartphones in particular –are influencing our kid’s daily lives in ways we might not have hoped.

The reality is, cell phones are here to stay, and the pressure for kids to have them is increasing. The number of children with cell phones has doubled in the last decade. 85% of teens aged 14 to 17 have them. According to a 2010 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, so do 69% of 11-14 year olds and 31% of kids aged 8-10.

With busy parents and active kids, a cell phone for communication can be a huge convenience. And smartphones, like tablets, can actually serve as good learning tools.  But most parents buy their teens cellphones because they offer the security of knowing that you’re just a call or text away.

One of the best articles I’ve seen on the subject of whether kids should get cell phones looks at it from a medical perspective.  In “Is Your Child Ready for a Cell Phone?” Susan Davis covers the basics, and a few things parents might not think of, like the importance of keeping cell phones away from kids of all ages at bedtime.

Most hand held devices offer some sort of parental controls and parents should consider them. If you are unsure on how to set them up, consult your plan provider.  Today parents have more options than ever for monitoring their kid’s phones, with tougher applications and software designed for monitoring and filtering web-browsing and other safety features.

Experts warn that technology shouldn’t be your only line of defense for protecting your kids, however, recommending that parents establish usage policies by defining appropriate and inappropriate use before providing kids access to smartphones – and then enforcing those rules. One parent I know had their tween sign a written “contract” prior to receiving the privilege of a phone. This policy worked so well that when his daughter became old enough to drive, he applied the same process to driving the family vehicle.