How to Safely Monitor Your Child’s First Smartphone
Should I track my child’s phone without them knowing?
You’re not the first one to wrestle with that question. But before you venture down a path of deception, know there’s a safer, smarter option.
It’s called Smartphone Monitoring.
Phones Are Like Cars
When you got your first driver’s license, did your parents immediately hand over the keys and send you out? Did your parents trust you to figure it out with no guidance?
Most of us can answer this question with a resounding “No!”. Afterall, that is a terrible parenting decision on many levels.
Unfortunately, many parents today are unknowingly handing over the keys for unlimited access to the world.
When? When we give children their first smartphone, tablet, or computer.
Smartphones and other digital devices are vehicles for increasing communication and accessing information. But, all this online sharing exposes our children to potential potholes in life. From bullying, sexting, and predator grooming, to phishing, and more.
Too often, we give our kids a tech device without ever discussing safety and technology dangers. Sure, we sometimes talk about the risk of talking to strangers or sending inappropriate images or text, but our follow-up needs an action plan.
Unfortunately, we can’t ride along with our children, helping them learn the rules of the road. One way we can help kids is by implementing smartphone monitoring as a learning tool. Essential life skills like social media safety, etiquette, boundaries, and situational awareness.
I don’t need to track my child’s phone without them knowing. I need to practice honesty and transparency–which is exactly what I want them to do.
But how do you make it work? How do you track your child’s smartphone without fighting or lies?
The Key to Smartphone Monitoring
It’s best to begin this discussion on smartphone monitoring long before our kids get their first smartphone. Safe, honest smartphone monitoring helps children learn online safety with our guidance. We let them know we are monitoring and looking over their shoulder until they show good judgment.
6 Strategies for Smart Phone Monitoring
Track my child’s phone without them knowing? No way! I want my child to know I’m watching.
So enough with the sneaky tactics. Own your worry. You’re keeping your kids safe and helping them learn to stay safe online and on the phone. No guilt or remorse required.
Stand strong with these six guidelines for smartphone monitoring.
1. Start an ongoing discussion about digital safety.
Cyberbullying rates have tripled in recent years. 87 percent of our kids have admitted to witnessing cruel online behavior. With numbers like those, we can see the importance of using headlines, television shows, and real life events to talk to our sons and daughters about online safety. Make sure to cover cyberbullying, sexting, talking to strangers, online predators, and phishing.
2. Help them realize that smartphone ownership is a privilege.
According to the Pew Research Center, 73 percent of teens had access to a smartphone in 2015 and those numbers have only increased. This means most of us are paying the bills and providing our kids with phones. We need to stress that phones are a privilege, not a right! If they fail to properly use their devices, they will lose this privilege. Also, include how smartphone monitoring is a test of their maturity, not a punishment.
3. Be honest.
Avoid sneaking around and lying about monitoring a child’s smartphone. This will only lead to mistrust and anger, shutting down all open lines of communication. In the beginning, don’t hide our monitoring. Liken it to driver’s education, we are there to watch how they handle social media and offer advice if we see areas for improvement. As they prove sound judgment and appropriate etiquette, you can ease back and allow them more freedom.
4. Validate their feelings.
Don’t expect kids to be happy we’re watching. We need to listen to their feelings and concerns. This is a vital step in creating dialogue and helping our kids understand monitoring is a necessity. Remember to be calm and avoid blaming or name calling.
5. Create a family technology contract.
As a family, create a contract that states all rules, expectations, and consequences for using technology. This will help get everyone on the same page and prevent future arguments down the road. Make sure to include guidelines about screen-free time, the importance of maintaining grades, and restricted apps.
6. Use it as a teaching tool.
70 percent of our children take measures to hide their online activity from us. Monitoring allows us to teach our kids about ways to interact with technology. We can use this as an opportunity to address the content our kids encounter and use that as learning experiences.
What Happens Next?
It is inevitable that our sons and daughters will make a mistake here and there. After all, they are learning the rules as they go. Accept honest mistakes and move forward in a positive, honest manner.
We can challenge ourselves to use smartphone monitoring as a tool to help raise responsible digital citizens.
We can instigate an ongoing conversation about digital safety and make sure our kids know that smartphones are a privilege, not a right. No need to track my child’s phone without them knowing.
Our honest talk about the very real dangers of technology validates our kids’ feelings and acknowledges that yes, we are watching. We teach them how to cope, instead of telling them what to do.
Kids have a choice: accept our smartphone monitoring conditions or wait to own one…which choice do you think your kid will make?
Finally, a technology contract within the family will lay the groundwork for safe usage and monitoring standards. Smartphone monitoring if a teaching tool, and helping your child learn to safely use the technology we eat, sleep, and live with goes a long way towards raising responsible adults.
Track my child’s phone without them knowing?
No, thanks. I’ll choose smartphone monitoring, instead.
So, how do you feel about smartphone monitoring?