In today's world, it is becoming increasingly rare to see a child without a smartphone, tablet, or other mobile devices in their hands at some point during the day. These mobile devices are teaching children to become very hands-on with technology from a young age. While the use of these devices by children may be controversial for some, most agree that the use of mobile devices to assist children with learning is a great idea. However, the use of these mobile devices, whether for learning or entertainment purposes, creates a lot of concerns and questions for parents. As these technologies are relatively new, it can be difficult for parents to determine proper mobile device practices and safety. While specific rules concerning these devices should be created and monitored by the parents based on their personal beliefs and preferences, there are some basic steps that should be taken to ensure the safety of children.
Mobile device technology is relatively new, which leaves parents without reference points for usage and rules.
Parents should only allow a mobile device or technological usage that they feel comfortable with.
Balanced Usage of Mobile Devices Necessary for Child
Although a lot of programs found on mobile devices, such as tablets, can be very educational for children, it is important to remember that they should not be used constantly. As with other technologies, such as television, the amount of time for which a child is granted access should be carefully monitored. Children who spend excessive amounts of time using mobile devices or watching television are at an increased risk for several health complications, including obesity and attention deficit disorders. This is because when children are using mobile devices, they are usually sitting still and being exposed to constant entertainment. They begin to replace physical activities with sedentary ones, and without the mobile device providing constant entertainment, they become bored very quickly. Because of this, it can be difficult for children to learn to entertain themselves. Most pediatricians agree that children younger than 12 should be limited to around one to two hours of television, video games, or mobile devices per day. This, however, is just a guideline, and parents should create their own rules about time with technology by considering these guidelines and other factors, such as age and physical activity level.
- Mobile devices should not be a child’s only form of entertainment or learning.
- Time limits for technology are essential to the well-being of the child.
Physical activity and sedentary activities, such as the use of mobile devices, should be balanced to prevent obesity or other health consequences.
Devices should have proper Parental control systems
Once health and time-limit considerations are made, parents should set other safety rules about mobile devices. The first step parents should take is to use the parental control options that most devices are equipped with. Based on the child’s age, parents should use the system to block inappropriate information, videos, games, and photos from appearing in search engines, websites, or app stores. Although these measures will prevent a lot of inappropriate content, parents should be aware that often, there are advertisements within apps that may not adhere to the parent-control guidelines. For this reason, it is always important for parents to be aware of the programs that their children are using. Parents should test apps by exploring what they offer before allowing children to play them. This will allow parents to know specifically what their children are playing and seeing. Even with these measures being taken, parents should always be present and check frequently on the child’s activities on the mobile device.
- Parents should use the parental control systems on the device.
- Any apps or programs a child uses should first be researched or tested by an adult to ensure that there are no inappropriate advertisements.
Parents should be present during use and frequently monitor their children’s activities on mobile devices.
Educating Child about Cyberbullying & proper social media practices
For older children who are able to read and write, parents should also set parental controls that are password-protected and begin to discuss what type of information should not be shared online. Parents must stress the importance of never sharing one’s age, name, address, school, or phone number while online or while using apps. Children should also be informed about the dangers of sharing this type of information with strangers in terms that are appropriate for their age. For teenagers, parents should address proper social media practices, including the dangers of cyberbullying and pictures or information that are not acceptable or appropriate for these platforms. Parents with teens who are old enough to begin driving should also touch on eliminating the use of any mobile devices while driving. Aside from these basic practices, parents should create rules surrounding mobile device usage that are specific to their children, lifestyle, and beliefs.
- Parents of older children and teens should use more-effective parental-control systems, including ones that can be protected with a unique password versus a simple PIN.
- Parents must inform their children not to share personal information in apps or to strangers online.
- Cyberbullying and inappropriate social media practices must be discussed with older children and teens.
- Teens who can drive should be warned about the dangers of texting and driving or otherwise-distracted driving due to use of mobile devices.