(WYTV) – In today’s world, many people, including teenagers, view having a cellphone as one of life’s major necessities. Smartphones are even at the top of many lists this holiday season.
But should parents pull the trigger and buy children their first phone?
Before making that decision, experts want parents to think about this…
“Even if they’re begging for it, know that you’re going to need to also commit before you give it to them, to downloading every single app that they want,” said Josh Ochs with Smart Social.
Ochs is a social media speaker who recently talked with parents and students about smartphone safety at West Branch High School.
One of the major talking points was safety and where predators tend to be lurking.
“They hang out in every app that your kids are on. That means Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, Fortnite — anything that your child has on a gaming device or phone,” Ochs said.
While there are many great benefits to being digitally connected, there are certain issues families should address.
To start, come up with a cellphone agreement with your child.
“That means you describe clearly who paid for the phone, who pays for the monthly fee and how could the phone get taken away if they misbehave. Also that they need to answer the call and the text if you ever contact them on this device that you bought for them,” Ochs said.
Also, talk candidly about bullying and other online threats.
“Make sure they know they can come to you about anything that they see online or anyone they talk to that might seem inappropriate,” Ochs said.
Ochs said taking the time to set up the parental controls before handing the phone over to your child is a must.
“You can then require that your student’s phone checks in with you before they get to download any apps,” he said.
Those settings will also allow you to limit screen time and virtually shut the phone off each night.
Still, there is some good news in all of this. There are alternatives to smartphones that work just as well and look exactly like the real deal.