Schools nearly out for summer and many American children are dreaming of a more carefree, easy breezy way of spending their time. If their summer plans and programs don’t include a “no smart phones allowed” policy, you might find yourself being asked that long awaited (and dreaded question) by your child.
Can I get a cell phone this summer?
No matter how old your child is, you should be prepping for this inevitable question: “
Because once that smartphone is in your kid’s hands, you won’t be able to look over their shoulder the whole time. Are they mature enough to handle the responsibility of having the whole Internet at their fingertips? How do you know if your kid is ready to dive into the world of social media?
Here are a few questions you can ask to find out if your child is ready for a smartphone.
1 – How would your child handle feeling excluded?
Social media can be a bummer sometimes. How would your kid feel if he found out others were hanging out without him via Snapchat? If she learned about a party she wasn’t invited to? What if your child posted something on Instagram and nobody “liked” it? Or if they received a mean comment? Social media makes everything public, and feelings of FOMO can be very real! The Internet is also a constant source of comparison for kids and it can often make them feel uncool, upset, or unpopular. Make sure your child can cope with these potential feelings of exclusion, so their self-esteem doesn’t suffer.
2 – How would your child deal with conflicts online?
People can get bolder (and meaner) when they interact online rather than face to face. And it seems gossip and rumors travel at twice the speed of real life. You can take a screenshot of anything – anything!– and broadcast to the world. Make sure your child knows this and is able to stand up for themselves and address any possible conflicts in a healthy way.
3 – Does your child understand what’s appropriate to share online?
Nothing is totally secret in the world of social media. Like many adults on Facebook, kids can feel the need to overshare. It might seem like a good idea at the time to post a long, emotional rant, but make sure your child knows that social media isn’t the best place for that. Talk to them about finding other outlets, setting boundaries, and thinking before they post.
4 – Would your child seek help if something went wrong?
If things get uncomfortable online, you want to know that your child would come to you for help. Let them know that you’ll be there for them by staying informed about their digital world, not judging, and keeping the lines of communication open.
At the end of the day, every child is different, and you’ll have to get an idea of whether or not yours is ready for the responsibility of a smartphone. Are they sensitive to seeing others hanging out without them? Maybe that’s something you should discuss ahead of time. Do they feel insecure often? Are they prone to oversharing? You know your child best. Address these things beforethe smartphone is in their hands. And once you’ve made the leap, don’t be clueless about the social media. Get yourself comfortable with it and help them set healthy boundaries when it comes to their use, sharing, posting, and screen time habits.