Kids and smartphones
Smartphones allow kids to stay in touch with parents and caregivers and are seen as indispensable by many teenagers.
Smartphones also provide kids with access to the internet so they can access emails, social media sites and online chatting.
No doubt, your kids have told you that everyone else at school already has a phone, and in fact, ACMA research found that 80% of Australian teenagers (aged 14-17) are now using a smartphone.
So, when is the right age to allow a child to have a smartphone?
There are lots of things to consider before giving your child a phone or allowing them access to one. First, do they need one? Many parents decide that children need a phone for safety when they are travelling independently to and from school or getting to after school activities.
It is important to check what the school’s policy is on smartphone use and whether they will be allowed to bring their phone to school or how and when it can be used while at school. In NSW the Department of Education has a policy that restricts the use of smartphones in public schools.
Here are some tips for how kids and parents can safely manage mobile use:
- only share your personal details such as mobile phone number or usernames for social media with people you know and trust
- don’t share your device’s PIN or passwords for social media accounts (not even with your friends)
- don’t share personal information, such as your address, name of your school, your current location or holiday plans online
- limit your friend list on social media – only connect online with people you actually know in real life – and set your profile to private
- always stop and think before you post a picture or message online – if it would hurt or upset someone else – don’t post it (and if someone has shared intimate pictures of you without your consent you can find out more about image-based abuse here).
- don’t use video apps such as Facetime or Skype with anyone you don’t know
- if you have been bullied online by hurtful text messages, social media posts or photos, tell an adult you trust, such as a parent or teacher, straight away. Remember, it is not your fault and you will need help to stop the bullying.
- you can’t always trust people you meet online as sometimes people may be pretending to be someone else. If someone online asks to meet you offline, tell a responsible adult, such as a parent or teacher straight away, so that they can help you decide whether it would be safe to meet. And always take a trusted adult with you and arrange such meetings to be in public places during the daytime to ensure your safety.
- if you have been upset by something you’ve seen online or been bullied online or on your mobile, you may want to access web counselling for kids from the Kids Helpline here or call the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800
- learn more about how manage privacy settings on popular games, apps and social networking platforms here.
- talk regularly to your kids about bullying and cyberbullying
- visit the eSafety Commissioner’s website with your kids to read more detailed tips and information for parents and kids (young kids through to teenagers) about staying safe online
- you can report illegal or offensive internet content here
- if your child has experienced problems with bullying or offensive content online, you may want to access web counselling for kids from the Kids Helpline here or call the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800
- Familiarise yourself with how to use parental controls on your child’s mobile.