While mobile devices can offer young adults a great deal of new autonomy, there are tools available to help parents keep a handle on their child’s phone use.
One such tool is Verizon Smart Family (formerly FamilyBase), which lets parents monitor their child’s location by tracking their device. Smart Family also gives parents the ability to set limits on screen time and block objectionable content by setting content filters. There’s even a feature that lets you pause the internet on your child’s phone, whether they’re using mobile data or WiFi.
Services such as Smart Family can help you help you ease your child into the responsibility that comes with owning a smartphone. “Insights into how devices are being used help parents have conversations with their children on the responsible use of phones and to set boundaries with the help of access controls if necessary,” said Shamik Basu, Director of Product Development at Verizon Wireless.
Mobile phones and child safety: One parent’s story
It was easy for Tracy McClusky to recognize when her son was ready for his own phone. “It depends on each individual. We felt that at 13 he was showing he was responsible enough for a phone,” she said. “It’s great to know he can reach his Dad or me at a moment’s notice.”
When Tracy’s 13-year-old son took a bad fall while skiing in central Massachusetts with his ski club, he knew something was wrong. He talked with a chaperone on the trip, who took a quick look and said he seemed fine. But Tracy’s son wasn’t convinced; he used his cell phone to call his mother, who quickly drove to the ski slope to take him to the hospital. Her son was right. His arm was broken. “I was relieved he had his own phone,” said Tracy.
When your child is old enough for a phone, apps like Smart Family can help set boundaries
Parents choose to give mobile devices to their children for many reasons, ranging from safety considerations to homework help. A Pew Research Center survey showed that 88 percent of teens have a smartphone or feature phone and of these, 90 percent use their mobile device to go online at least once a day. However, many parents still struggle with the questions of when to give their child a phone and how to keep some control over how it is used.
Tracy was comfortable giving her son a cell phone at age 13, but the timing isn’t the same for all parents. Fortunately, apps like Smart Family are available to help give parents some peace of mind once they decide to make the smartphone leap with their child.