4 Important Things To Do Before Giving Your Child A Smartphone

Are you planning to give your child a smartphone, tablet, or console this holiday season? Before you wrap it (if you haven’t already) consider doing a few things first.

Set Expectations

The number one piece of advice I give parents when buying their child a device is to set expectations. You need to decide what kind of restrictions you’ll put in place and how you want it to be used. Will you limit how often and how long they’re allowed to use it? Will you limit the types of games they’re allowed to play? All of these things should be thought about before you give them the device so you can set their expectations after they receive it.

Device Controls

Nearly every electronic device comes with some form of parental controls. I’ve advocated for them for over 10 years and companies are finally making it easier for parents to manage how, when, and how long their children use their devices.

Screen Time (iOS) – Apple has always had a walled garden so you’ll either need to manage your child’s device directly or use another iOS device. Screen Time has great controls and works well with Family Sharing.

Family Link (Android) If you got your child any smartphone besides an iPhone you most-likely will use Family Link to manage parental controls. Fortunately, they have an iOS app too.

Amazon FreeTime Fire tablets, TVs, and even Alexa-enable devices can be managed with Amazon’s FreeTime. In my experience, Amazon has the weakest controls.

Consoles: The Nintendo Switch and XBox both have dedicated apps that you can use to manage parental controls on their consoles. Sony’s Playstation requires you to use a browser or its general Playstation app.

Network Controls

For whole-house Internet controls you can turn to your router or a secondary device. If you’re using the router your Internet provider installed, check with them for information on parental controls. I suggest either a second router for the kids or Circle by Disney.

Circle Home Plus – The Circle Home Plus device connects with your router to manage every Internet-connected device on your home network.

Home Router – Every home router these days has some level of parental controls. Check your manufacturer’s website for instructions to configure those settings.

Software and Apps

No solution will fully protect you and your children so if you need to take a belt and suspenders approach I recommend installing an app on their device for additional monitoring.

Covenant Eyes – I’ve been an advocate (and affiliate) for Covenant Eyes for over a decade. They’re the gold-standard when it comes to monitoring and filtering.

Accountable2You – If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, Accountable2You has got you covered. It occasionally triggers false alarms but I’ve still found it to be a useful tool.

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John Wilkerson

John Wilkerson combines over 20 years of professional experience in the computer industry with 17 years of homeschooling 7 children to give parents easy to understand advice on the application of technology in their homes.

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