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Before You Buy

Design

As a guide to assess the pros and cons of buying a smartphone or other technology device for your child

Foundation

Mobile devices have become the “status symbol” of early adolescence. As a result, younger and younger children think they should have the latest and greatest technology. But it is the parent’s job to decide whether they are ready and to establish healthy parameters and guidelines.

Tools

• Work through the questions on the back of this booklet to assess the need, risks and guidelines for giving a child his/her own device.
• Set a time with your child to discuss your decision and your guidelines.

Construction

What do they need?
• If you want your child to have a phone for emergencies, a simple phone is the least expensive and least risky option.
• Do you want your child to have full access to the web using a smartphone? If not, a basic calling service with a limit on texting or a prepaid phone might be best.
• Ask yourself, “What is my child going to gain from owning his or own device?”

Are they ready?
• As a parent, you must determine what is best for your child and if he has the maturity to handle such a device.
• Is your child ready to be responsible for an expensive device? Does she take care of her belongings?
• Does your child respect limits and adhere to rules and boundaries you have put in place in other areas of his life?
• Are YOU ready? Can you model healthy habits for your child and commit to teaching about safe and appropriate content?

What are the risks?
• Mobile devices are more difficult to monitor/restrict than a computer.
• 24/7 access to texting, web surfing, games, social media, etc. has become a source of continual distraction and often, addiction.

How can you protect them?
• Protecting a child from unrestricted access to the web on a mobile device requires the extra expense of a service such as the type available from covenanteyes.com.
• Protecting a child from the possible dangers of technology requires parental engagement and clear guidelines. Consider establishing a contract with your child BEFORE you buy because she is most willing to comply with rules such as “Charge it at night in the parent’s room” or “Parents will always know the password and review activity at a moment’s notice.” Use the “Digital Age: Establishing Healthy Tech Habits” to help set these guidelines.

© 2014 Inkling Innovations & Lydia Randall