Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Should Kids Have Mobile Phones

Do you let your kids have a mobile phone?

It’s a dilemma every modern parent will to face at some point, and it’s not one that’s easily solved. You want them to be able to get in touch with you if they need to, but phones come with a whole slew of issues you have to consider before you hand one over to your little ‘uns.

The problem with letting your children have a mobile phone - especially a smartphone - is that almost every reason you can think of to do so comes with a ‘but’ attached…

A mobile will let your kids call you if they need you...

This is the main reason to give your kids a phone, right? If they need you they can call, and conversely, if you need to get hold of them, you can. It can help protect them, and provide peace of mind for you.

BUT… left unsupervised, they may rack up charges

Many children - particularly younger ones - don’t understand the value of money. It’s something they have to learn, but doing so through mobile bills can be a painful lesson - for you.

Your kids are naturally going to want to use their mobiles to keep in touch with friends, so there’s the potential for them to rack up calls and texts, which could lead to expensive bills if their phone’s on pay-monthly or burning through of credit if it’s on pay-as-you-go.

A mobile will allow your kids to go online wherever they are

The ability to connect to the web whenever you want is brilliant. If you’re lost, you can just bring up a map. If there’s homework to do, research is just a few taps away. If your children want to communicate with friends, access to instant messaging and social media’s right there in their pocket.

BUT...the internet is full of things you might not want them to see

The web can be a bad place for children if they’re allowed to browse unsupervised. There’s no shortage of inappropriate material out there, which could potentially be damaging to impressionable kids, from pornography to sites promoting anorexia and self-harm.

Apps are great

The various app stores you can access on smartphones are crammed full of games your kids will love and dedicated educational software, which is a great way for them to learn in an entertaining way.

BUT...in-app purchases are not

Over the last few years, free-to-play games that feature in-app purchases have become commonplace. Kids download these titles and then buy extra items to help them get further in the game, often without realising they're spending real-world money, and parents have been hit with massive bills as a result.

Those are just three factors to consider when thinking about whether to let your kids have mobile phones. Ultimately though, there’s no ‘right’ answer - it’s your decision to make based on when you think your kids are ready for one.

If you think the time is right, here are some tips to protect them and your bank balance…

Use a parental control app to restrict what your kids can do on their phone

They’re not a perfect, and no replacement for you both educating and supervising your children, but they can help.

Go pay-as-you-go

Pay as you go deals limit how much your kids can spend on their phone each month, and it’s a good way of teaching them to understand that everything they do on their phone costs money.

Don’t buy an expensive handset

Sure, iPhones are cool, but getting your kid one could make them a target for thieves. And that’s before you take into account that kids are really good at losing and breaking things, so save yourself some cash by getting them a handset that’s affordable and durable.


This post is written in association with Broadband Choices.

- Posted on the go :)

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