If you are a parent reading this, you have likely already accepted the fact that your child needs a cell phone. Cell phones are as common for kids to own today as CD players were for my friends and I growing up. Like many other Quebec parents, you're probably familiar with a smartphone repair Montreal expense ocurring every few months from a crying child losing their most prized possession. Did you know that 21% of children 8 years and younger use smart phones? 78% of teens aged 12 to 17 already have a cell phone. Unlike the initial flip phones on the market, most cell phones can be paired with plans and warranties that will suit your child's needs for less money than you think. Since cell phones arenât as expensive as they used to be, it is much more reasonable to buy your child a phone as a birthday or Christmas gift. If something does happen to it, local cell phone repair shops are available for quality and low-cost fixes for things like broken screens and battery replacements.
Denying your child a phone or delaying the process simply excludes them from the social experience that most kids are having both at school and at home. I acknowledge the concerns that parents have with buying their son or daughter a new cell phone, but I think these issues are not as doomed as they are made out to be. If parents take the time to educate themselves on proper cell phone use they will be able to teach that information to their children. The most common concerns regarding kids with cell phones are related to privacy, regrets, cyber-bullying, poor academic performance, and lack of true social interaction leading to anxiety. These issues can seem over whelming to deal with, but there are simple solutions that can create a positive balance in your child's life.
For example, most privacy concerns are due to the fact that only 61% of youth use privacy settings properly on their social media sites. Meaning the 39% of youth not using privacy settings are vulnerable to friend requests from strangers, private messages, and their pictures being public. Due to lack of education on importance of privacy settings, 14% of children have posted their home addresses online. The biggest mistake to make when buying a cell phone for your child is assuming that they know and understand how to protect themselves properly. Think about it. Would you know how to protect yourself online without doing any research first?
It is important to educate children of the public nature of the internet. Once they have a real understanding of the fact that anything uploaded to the internet becomes public, they will be less likely to post potentially embarrassing or career-ruining pictures on their social media accounts.
We can't talk about the risks of cell phone use without talking about sexting. A study performed by USC researchers discovered that 20% of teenagers have experience sexting. This means they have either sent or received a sext (suggestive text messages, often with pictures attached). Although I do agree this is a trend that many teens will likely regret being part of, it is hardly a trend that only teens are participating in. Anthony Weiner, the former US congressman, is the most recent example of a world of post-sexting regret. Keep in mind that most teens who are sexting are also hiding their online activity from their parents. To protect your children, install a monitoring software or add parental controls so you can see what your kids are doing online. When kids know their parents are watching, they are significantly less likely participate in things like cyber-bullying or sexting.
As far as genuine social interactions are concerned, just because a child owns a cell phone doesnt mean they have to be on it 24/7. But, if you want your kid to get off their phone for some quality family time you will have to put your phone down as well.
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