If your kid is approaching the tween years, they’ve likely pestered you about getting a phone. In many instances, it makes good logistical sense. If they’re beginning to take public transportation on their own or catching rides to extracurricular activities, for example, you want to be able to reach them and vice versa. That said, getting your child a phone comes with a gamut of important considerations, such as safety and responsibility. Here are things to think about when buying your child’s first phone.
Age is not the most significant determinant of maturity. A 15-year-old may perpetually lose things while an 11-year-old takes excellent care of their belongings. Think about whether your child has a good sense of responsibility—do they show up when they say they will? Do they complete tasks without reminders? Do they understand how much things cost? If not, they may not yet be reliable phone owners.
Put rules in place from the beginning, and establish consequences if they’re not followed. For example, set limits on phone time. Specify times of the day when using the phone is not allowed, such as late at night, while doing homework or during family activities. Also, what are they allowed to use the phone for? Texting and calling? Which social apps are allowed if any?
Agree on how much money is available to cover the data plan, if any game or app expenses are allowed and how much the child will contribute. Also, if the phone gets lost or broken, will it be replaced? If so, who pays?
One of the most effective ways to make sure these rules are clear on both sides is to create a contract detailing these rules to be signed by both you and your child, reinforcing that a phone is a privilege, not a right.
If you don’t want your kids texting at the dinner table, checking Instagram during a conversation or talking loudly on their phone in public, you shouldn’t do those things either.
Discuss digital etiquette, including not bullying or embarrassing others online or sending inappropriate pictures or messages. These details can also be included in the contract.
But don’t rely on the contract as being enough. Have ongoing conversations about how texts and online activities can be shared publicly. Also, discuss online safety about not sharing personal information or engaging with anyone they don’t know. Your child needs to know that it’s your responsibility to check their phone to see what they’re doing online to ensure their safety.
Deciding on what kind of phone or contract to get means having a clear understanding of how your child will use it. It’s primarily about staying in touch, but smartphones offer other benefits such as researching homework, streaming favourite shows, taking pictures and videos, playing games as well as keeping up with friends.
Look at which phone and plan make the most sense for your family. Maybe they get a simpler phone to start or your old phone while you get an upgrade. For instance, Rogers offers back-to-school savings on the latest 5G devices like iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro at $0 down and 0 percent interest*. Whatever you decide, make sure your kids understand that with great phones come great responsibilities. Visit rogers.com for more information.