When you consider that 73% of teenagers have access to a smartphone, you can begin to appreciate the importance of parental supervision to steer kids away from dangers that lurk on the world wide web.
Your children likely don’t appreciate all of the potential dangers online with cyberbullying, sexting, and talking to strangers being among the chief concerns. So if you’re either giving your children their own smartphone or allowing them to use your own device unsupervised, it makes sense to implement a smartphone monitoring strategy for their safety and your peace of mind. What follows is a look at four things your strategy should include.
1. Discussion: The first step is to engage your children in a discussion about digital safety. While they may already know a bit about cyberbullying, sexting, and dialoguing with people they don’t know online, they likely don’t fully understand the potential consequences. Remember that your children’s brains are still growing and developing, and so their ability to properly weigh the consequences of their actions and to control their impulses will be compromised until they have fully matured. As a result, it’s important that you talk to them about the dangers.
2. Privacy & Trust: You can expect some pushback from your children as they challenge what they will probably see as an invasion of their privacy. You need to explain that
monitoring is not a sign that you don’t trust them — it’s an indication that you don’t trust the rest of the world. If push comes to shove, you need to put your foot down and to explain that their smartphone is a privilege rather than a right.
3. Create Smartphone Contract: Before giving your children a smartphone, be sure to create a smartphone contract that covers, screen-free time, expectations for school performance, and restricted apps. Discuss the contract, including the consequences for violating it, and have your children sign it if they agree to honor it.
4. Monitor: After you’ve had the discussion on digital safety, talked about privacy and trust, and created a smartphone contract, you will still need a concrete way to monitor use. Fortunately, there are apps for that. It would be a good idea, in the interests of fairness, to let them know that you’re using an app to monitor how long they use their smartphone, what sites they visit, what instant messaging conversations they engage in, and more.
It’s definitely important to talk to your children about monitoring if you’re granting them a smartphone. For more tips on how to talk to them about this issue, please take a look at the following infographic on Smartphone Monitoring.