We are already 11 days into the 31 days of STEM activities for kids series. Today, we are studying technology! If you missed the other posts in the series, view them all here!
An inevitable part of growing up today is the onslaught of technology. Children are faced with online interaction at younger and younger ages. Many families rely on technology for all means of communication. We are one of those families. We do not have a landline, and only use cell phones.
This has forced us to teach Monkey (and Bo in smaller amounts) how to use a cell phone safely from a young age. We believe it is important to instruct kids on how to use technology safely so that they will not get hurt or find themselves unable to dial 911 or get help in case of emergency!
Cell Phone Safety Tips All Kids Should Know
We use these cell phone safety tips to keep our kids safe on the phone:
Basic Phone Use
All children should know how to use the basic elements of a phone to make calls to family and friends and what to do in case of emergency. We teach our children important phone numbers, how to dial 911 (and that it is possible to make an emergency call at any time), and the basics of using a phone so that they can get in contact with us when they need to. We have cell phone practice time so that Monkey can practice contacting us using a phone. Monkey also knows our phone unlock passwords, but not our purchase passwords for apps.
After a child learns the basics of how to use a phone, we stress the importance of online safety. This includes avoiding sketchy-sounding sites, never clicking on pop-up ads, not answering the phone if it is an unknown number, and other safety basics.
We also discuss privacy concerns with our kids, including the extreme importance of not publishing their names, personal details, or their location to anyone online. Right now, Monkey doesn’t use phones without supervision, but as she gets older, we will stress the importance of keeping her identity and position safe. We plan to avoid apps that state location, like Facebook and Foursquare.
Mobile Search Filters
More children today conduct online searches via phone. However, it can be harder to turn on safe searching through mobile. If you cannot figure out how to turn on safe searching on your child’s phone (the method is different for each phone), then consider turning off Internet privileges for your child’s phone.
We use Google Chrome on our phones, which uses the same Safe Search filters that Google accounts have on computer accounts. If you are signed into your Google account and you already have Safe Search turned on, your phone should also only return clean search results. However, this filter isn’t 100 percent foolproof, which is why I recommend monitoring a child’s phone Internet use.
Part of using a phone safely is following house phone rules. Your rules will vary, but we have the following phone rules:
- No cell phones at the table
- No answering unknown numbers
- No phones in bed
- No phones while engaging in other activities (like watching a family movie or playing a board game)
- No using a phone in a locked room/room with a closed door
- No using the phone without permission
- No phone use during activities (phone would be strictly for contacting mom or dad during events)
Apps and Games
We do not allow our children to make app purchases or download decisions without approval from mom or dad. All downloads must be parent-approved. The children do no have our purchase passwords and we have turned off automatic purchasing. This saves my peace of mind more than anything. I don’t want to see our phone bill filled with hundreds of dollars of silly in-app purchases!
Since Monkey is still young, she is rarely allowed to use a phone. As she ages, I’m sure her phone use will vary, but will likely be guided by her performance in school. If she is doing well in school, she can have more free time. If she is struggling, she will get less phone time. For right now, her only phone use is to make phone calls to mom and dad, the occasional friend call, and infrequent use to play games while waiting at a restaurant or driving in the car.
How do you keep your kids safe while using cell phones? What cell phone safety tips can you share with us?
Want more STEM? Find the rest of the 31 days of STEM activities for kids posts here!
Get more homeschooling tips for moms in the full 31 days of homeschooling tips for moms series!