Parents decide for themselves when their beloved child is ready to have his or her own smartphone. But what few people know is that when it arrives, they have a number of responsibilities to protect their child from the dangers of the World Wide Web. Writer and paediatrician Natasha Bergt talks to Forbes and lists the rules parents should follow.
- Set up your child's phone so it only has the features they need, then add extra features and be as vigilant and responsible as possible.
- Use the parental control feature in the mobile phone's operating system to help your children stay out of danger and limit their daily use according to family choice.
- Set clear limits on when mobile phones can be used and vice versa, e.g. move mobile phones away from the child's bedroom at night or away from the dinner table. Bergt believes that these hours without mobile phones are important to develop children's ability to regulate their own use.
- Before giving the phone to your child, be clear about the consequences, including what happens if he loses or damages the phone, or if he breaks the rules of use set by the family, but do not threaten or manipulate the child.
- Regularly check how the mobile phone affects your child's real life, how they use it, whether they get useful information, support what adds value to their daily life, and help them avoid seemingly useless apps or experiences.
Mobile apps are inherently addictive and other child activity tends to decrease when using mobile phones.
Observe your child's emotions and behaviour to see if the phone is affecting their mood. If you notice a major change, it may be time to take a step back and pause.