Kids are as advanced as ever before. Ask them to pick up a phone and teach you the ins and outs of an IP address and they’ll do it in a flash. While most parents will think “why can’t you do that with the dishes?” the point is kids are surrounded by technology.
Mums and dads want them to have fun and enjoy themselves, yet it’s also important to get a healthy balance. There is nothing more annoying than your son or daughter ignoring you for their friends on FB or the ‘Gram. Taking away their mobiles isn’t a wise move as it will only backfire massively. As you probably know, kids are great at holding grudges even if they can’t pick up a vacuum cleaner.
Finding the perfect middle ground is a battle parents are going to have fight for decades to come. And, you might not end up winning the war in the end. However, you can still try and teach them a few things with a handful of nifty tips. Allowing them to have a phone is one thing, yet it doesn’t mean they get to dictate terms.
Take a look at these basic rules to make sure your kids are responsible cellular children.
Set The Rules
As a parent, it’s easy to assume things. For example, you imagine your flesh and blood would know not to skip school or to revise for a test, but you’re constantly surprised. Kids don’t act in the way you’d expect adults to, which is something to keep in mind regarding their phone. What you might see as common sense they won’t have thought about. And, if they have, they might want to break the rules just because they can.
With this in mind, never take the obvious things for granted. Tell them that they can’t use their mobiles during dinner or until the whole family has finished. Yes, that goes for dessert too. As well as etiquette, don’t forget about the safety and security aspect of their phone use. Tell them they need to download an antivirus software app to keep their data safe and make sure they always look for the green icon in the URL.
Social media is another big feature of mobile devices. While you never want to censor them, it’s vital they don’t broadcast sensitive info to the world. Keep an eye on their posts and tweets (make them add you) and have a conversation about anything you find inappropriate.
Make Them Pay
If not all of it, your kids should contribute something towards the cost of the bill. Look, it isn’t as if you and your husband can’t afford an extra £20 a month, but it’s about the principle. As technology evolves, millennials and Generation X are losing the ability to understand the importance of hard work. They shrug off responsibility like it doesn’t matter.
Making them pay half of the monthly bill is one way to ensure they get the gist. If you want something nice in life, you have to work hard to pay for it because relying on other people isn’t feasible. How much you get them to contribute is down to you, but you can think outside of the box if they are short on money. Some parents trade money for services, such as getting them to do chores or run errands. Although they will complain, let them know that it’s better than having to work at the weekends.
Any charges they incur should also be their responsibility. Again, letting them rack up a bill because their bolt-ons have run out and then saving their bacon isn’t productive. When you set the rules, let them know in no uncertain terms that you’re only paying for basics of the contract.
Choose The Supplier
You should also help them pick the handset if you are going to pay for it. The last thing you need is a spotty cashier informing you that the new iPhone X is £999. Apart from the anger you’ll feel at the amount, there’s also a risk of a heart attack. How on earth can a company charge that much for a mobile phone? You could buy a car for that price! Kids who get their way will think money isn’t an option so you need to nip it in the bud.
The contract provider is also a massive deal. How much you and your kids pay per month is important as nobody wants to fork out a fortune. And, some deals are a lot of money, around £40-£50 pm. Thankfully, the best networks have rates which are less than £15 and they come with all the trimmings. Look for the amounts of data, minutes and texts you get included, as well as the extras. Smarty is a new mobile network which pays its customers for any unused data at the end of each month. ID rolls over remaining data so that its shoppers get more bang for their buck.
Of course, you can opt for a SIM-only contract, which tends to be cheaper. With a Pay-as-you-Go handset, there is no reason to pay for an expensive phone.
Ban It In The House
Banning anything is a drastic move as the kids will pull their face and scream stuff such as “I hate you!” It’s all in a day’s work for parents dealing with “mature” children. However, it’s for their own good as millennials don’t have the power to resist temptation. For one thing, they don’t see it as an issue to constantly use their handsets. In their heads, face-to-face conversations are old and boring and overrated.
As a grown-up, you understand the importance of being able to interact socially. Not only do you need the skill to make friends, but also to navigate the workplace. Try getting a promotion if everyone in the office thinks you’re a shy recluse. They’ll never follow you. So, sometimes it’s necessary to ban the use of mobiles for a few hours to teach them life skills. Make them go outside and play so that they can be kids. Society is making young people grow up too fast and it’s sad to see as a mother.
Obviously, there need to be rules because kids are great at finding loopholes. Let them know their devices are okay to use for homework etc., but after that it’s time for some fresh air. A club, such as football or drama, is excellent as it takes their mind off their phones.
But Make Them Take It Outside
A ban works in the house because they’ll sit on their phones all day long. Forcing them to put it down means they have to do something more productive for a period. When they leave the safety of the home, they should keep it on their person at all times. Now, this might seem a little contradictory but it’s vital they have a backup just in case.
Kids are great when it comes to their personal wellbeing, and a mobile can help them get out of sticky situations. For example, anybody can open Google Maps and find their way home if they’re lost. Or, if they don’t have any money, they can call you for a lift. More importantly, you can ring them and find out where they are, what they’re doing and if they’re safe. After all, a mother never stops worrying until the kids are in bed and accounted for.
The key is to ensure the battery is full and they know how to act in an emergency. Walk them through what they should do and drill it into their heads. You might also want to invest in a couple of accessories. For example, there are signal boosters and portable battery packs. You never know when these will come in handy for your children.
This post might make you think the kids aren’t trustworthy. And, let’s face it – they’ve proven it in the past. Boys and girls do stupid things because they want to impress their friends and feel the adrenaline coursing through their veins. As a combination, it isn’t one of the best. For parents, this means they can’t be trusted and need monitoring at all times.
The problem with this is the message it gives off. Because they’re not stupid, they’ll realise you don’t respect them enough to provide them with space. From checking their social media posts to constantly calling, your kids will soon get tired and lash out. Being a controlling parent is usually what transforms them into unreliable kids.
By all means, watch them from a distance without their knowledge. Track their iPhone if you’re worried or check their bill to make sure they’re not in debt. But, don’t let them know about your tactics unless it’s necessary to keep the peace. Only step in when it’s essential to prevent them from doing something ridiculous.
Kids will always have phones; it’s a necessary evil. However, they don’t have to be in charge. As the bill payer and the grown-up, you’re the one who sets the terms of the usage and the contract.