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I was just reading over some great articles put together by our sponsors at Verizon and realized that I hadn’t really written about the big step of getting your tween or teen their first smartphone. After talking to many other parents I’ve come to realize that families are all over the place with what age they feel is appropriate for their kids to get their first smartphones. Whatever age that might be in your house the one thing that is common is the types of things you might want to talk to your kids about before they get access to their phones. The Verizon Family Tech Initiative is a great place to start when you’re getting your child their first phone. It’s sort of a one-stop shop for products, tutorials, and all kinds of great information.
What to Talk to Your Tween or Teen About Before They Get Their First Smartphone
My personal advice when entering into the world of tweens/teens and smartphones is open conversations. Start early and talk to your kids. Here are some things you might want to talk about before getting them their first phones.
Let them know that you think they are responsible and mature enough to have a phone. Ask them why you need to be responsible to have a phone.
Talk about ways a phone will help and make your lives easier. Discuss how can you use the phone to keep in touch, schedule your days, or what apps you might use to make your lives easier (maybe even chore apps?).
Even if you choose to really limit social media access, have discussions about social media. Ways it can benefit you, ways it can be used negatively, and ways your child thinks it should be used. This is a great time to talk about future jobs and how choices you make as a young adult can possibly affect your future.
Discuss screen time and how you want to manage it, and/or what limits you may want to set in your family.
Talk about trust and accountability. In our house trust is earned and kept until we’re given a reason not to trust. But my kids also know that there’s a level of accountability whether it’s through Verizon’s family locator, managing screen time, approving apps before they’re downloaded etc.
We had lots of conversations in the car before my kids got their first phones. It helps to have little conversations here and there working up to the excitement of actually giving them the phone.
Parent’s Guide to Kids and Tech
As I mentioned, Verizon has put together a great combination of content in their Family Tech section. They have links to some really fun products for younger kids, articles on balancing trust and safety, how to set limits and lots more! As parents, we’ll never have the answers to everything, but educating ourselves constantly is something we can actively do. Having resources pulled together in one place is definitely a great place to start.
We’ve used Verizon since I was an older teen with a phone (they weren’t so smart back then 😉 ) and we have always loved their service and reliability. Their family plans are perfect for us now that all four of us have smartphones and are always streaming or tracking where each other are (I’ve gotten asked to pick up certain snacks at the store MANY times).