Although I dragged my feet for quite a while, our daughter officially has a cell phone. She’s 11 and was one of the last of her friends to get one. I know it can be a good thing, but as her mom, I want to educate her on the dangers and set it up safely.
I recorded this video before she got her phone and forgive me for saying “you” so many times– I am ALWAYS preaching to my own heart and self before preaching to anyone else! Watch the video, and then read below…
5 ways to guide and protect:
- Set up filters and restrictions
- Disney Circle: Love this! You can set time limits, downtime, see search history and much more. I highly recommend this to protect your home WIFI and devices. CLick here for more info.
- Life 360: a good way to see locations of family members and driving speeds, etc… Click here for more info
- Apple restrictions in phone: When a child is added to family sharing, there are many restrictions/filters that can be put into place. From allowed websites, content restrictions, time limits, installing/deleting apps, etc… I had someone at the AT&T store guide me on this.
- There are many others- Our Pact, BARK, Pumpic ….
- Remove Gifs– I just realized you can do this! (go to the “…” in the bar below a message, you can remove or add certain apps (like photos, app store, animojis etc..) -I love this feature!)
- When Joe White with Kanakuk Kamps spoke at our church years ago, he talked of drawing up contracts with children. I felt a cell phone was certainly a place that needed clear boundaries in a contract. Here is the contract we drew up with our daughter. You are welcome to take and use whatever you like for your children as well and feel free to let me know of anything I might have left off!
- Take phones up at bedtime
- If left to their own devices, I know my children would have a hard time putting the phone down to go to sleep. We have set downtime which turns almost all apps down but I still want the phone with me during the night. Kids need sleep so badly. You can read in the contract the downtime hours for us.
- If having a sleepover, communicate with the other children the rules of the house–no cell phones past a certain time. Take them up (depending on kids ages) or have them put them away.
- Teach Phone Etiquette (more of this in the contract above)
- Be mindful of what pictures are taken/sent…once it’s out there, it’s out there
- THINK: Is it true? Helpful? Inspiring? Necessary? Kind? Think before sending/taking/texting
- Be kind. Don’t gossip on group texts. (group texting is a feature that can be removed if needed!)
- Answer the phone when parents text or call
- Always wrap up a call with “BYE”
- Say NO to social media (Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram, etc…)
- Kids can’t drive until they are 16, vote until 18, gamble, drink or smoke until 21, rent a car until 25 and yet social media is “legal” at 13. This to me is way too young for these sweet, innocent hearts and minds that aren’t fully developed. The bullying that takes place, the FOMO, the availability of porn, the addiction of likes or comments, etc….
- Wait as long as you can. 16? 18?
- Click here for an eye-opening read about Tik Tok
- Click here for a more helpful read in navigating TikTok
Some things to remember:
- To whom much is given, much is required. My mom reminds me of this often, and I’m grateful! A phone is much, therefore will require much from us and our children
- Each child is different- don’t just get a child a phone (or social media) because all of their friends have one
- It’s ultimately our phone and we are lending it to them
- We are not powerless when it comes to our children and electronics. As parents, we are in charge of their cell phones
- Use the phone as currency. Chores must be done, grades made, good behavior at home and school, etc… or phone is taken away
- Have a “grounded” phone to be used if main phone is taken away. A flip phone or a GABB phone would be great. (we actually looked into the GABB phone and may consider it for our “grounded” phone or other children if we need to strictly get a hold of them It seems like a great device!)
I am not an expert, I’m learning as we go. I want to share this information to help others navigate electronics in this day and age. I know they are kids and may be able to find loopholes or ways around things, but a constant prayer on my lips and in my heart is that anything hidden in the dark would be brought to light. I can trust the Lord to do this, so grateful!
Heavenly Father, because of your love, presence and Word, we are not alone in our parenting- I praise you! You have blessed us with our children for just a short time, may we be great stewards of them always. May we diligently pray for them and their friends as they grow up in a place where too much can be accessed and known too soon. May we grant freedoms according to each child, letting You help us discern that which is pleasing to You and good. Father, I pray You would continually shine light on any darkness in my life and my children’s’ lives. Keep them safe and smart. May they long to do Your will. May the phones we use be used for Your glory. In Jesus name I pray, AMEN.
Sure sounds like some practical advice to me.
Years ago, like nearly forty years ago, we drew up a contract with our eight year old son, Tony, regulating his usage of his first motorcycle. And he adhered to it. That contract is one of our many prized reminders of parenthood.
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So neat!!! I’m thinking of doing one with each child for life in general! Just to have more clear boundaries on paper.