Providing your teen with a cell phone definitely has its pros and cons. On one hand, you can reach your child at all times. They will more than likely be constantly checking their phones, so in return can check in with your more often while they are out and about. On the other hand, once your teen gets a phone, your safety fears for them intensify as they have unlimited access to the World Wide Web. Sharing personal information on social media, online bullying, and inappropriate sites fill parents’ heads with constant worry and dread. Most teens are highly active on their phones, which causes many parents to search for tools available to keep them safe.
A quick and easy place to start is with your cell phone service provider. All of the wireless companies offer some type of parental control options, so it’s a great place to begin. Some may be included with your current plan, and others have a fee to use that they tack on to your monthly bill.
Another idea is to install parental controls and monitoring software tools. Some of these software options are free, and some have a monthly or yearly fee to use. They can assist you in keeping track of what content your child sees when surfing the web, how much screen time they are getting, who they are communicating with, and what they are sharing with others on social media.
There are a number of apps that you can install to do things such as restrict the Safari browser and also install a kid-safe browser.
The most important way to keep your teen safe though, is to have open communication. Restrictions, apps, and monitoring tools can only do so much. They are created to assist parents in keeping their children safe, not replace them. Take the time to talk to your teen about the dangers of social media. There are number of articles and videos that can aid in these discussions. Try and spend some one on one time with your teen doing an activity they love. Often, if you can get them in a good mood, they become more talkative. They will likely share more things with your than they normally would. Be sure to actively listen to your teen, and not talk over them. Try not to lecture them, as they will close up immediately. Offer friendly advice or share a story of an experience you once had. The more conversations you have that leave them feeling heard and respected, the more they will open up to you. Giving you a bigger glimpse in their lives and what you can do to keep them safe.