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CELL PHONE - FATHER - CHILD

Being a dad: When to make your child put down their cell phone

Kate Halim

Parents today are facing an issue their parents never had to deal with: cell phones. How are parents supposed to know how to navigate the uncharted territory of giving their kids such an advanced piece of technology? What rules and restrictions should be in place for kids’ phone use?

Knowing how to navigate technology and kids is a common concern for many parents. Too much screen time is always a concern. It can interrupt sleep patterns, and distract them from responsibilities. There are also social concerns regarding cyber bullying, accessing porn and other sites or engaging with strangers.

But that doesn’t mean giving kids their own phones is necessarily a bad idea. The flip side is that kids aren’t addicted to technology itself, they are hooked on the social side of it.

Smartphone access can allow them to engage with their peers in different mediums that may not always be accessible at school. Basically, it helps them learn more about themselves.

Additionally, phone access can help children learn problem-solving skills because they can research specific topics or seek support when they are not quite ready to speak with their parents or a caring adult.

While some fathers may be tempted to restrict their kids to phones with just basic texting and calling instead of smart phones, that may not necessarily be the best route.

While just keeping phones to the basic texting and calling seems like it simplifies the tech debate, it actually causes more stress for kids.

First, many schools are having kids use their phones to access learning assignments. Because kids don’t want to be seen as the kid without a phone, they will often just guess at that coursework or skip the assignment altogether.

Also, there comes a point when not having a smart phone leaves kids feeling isolated. The children who don’t have smart phones end up feeling alienated by their peers because they can’t communicate with them or they don’t understand the conversations their peers are having.

Rather than eliminating the smart phone, it’s better to help your child learn what is and isn’t appropriate on the phone. Every child is different, and it’s up to parents to decide exactly what is right for their individual kids.

Finding the right limits

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to determining how much or how little time a child can spend on the phone. It depends on many factors, including age, level of maturity, emotional needs, etc. Fathers can determine what is appropriate for their children, and start a conversation about what when, where and how to use technology as well as when to unplug.

Schedule a starting and stopping point not just for your child’s online connection, but yours as well. An evening check-in of devices can also help discourage late-night tech sessions. Plus it helps kids eliminate the blue screen effect that can disrupt sleep patterns.

Help your children understand the effects of multitasking. Staying focused will strengthen their interpersonal skills and school performance. Encourage them to minimize distractions and manage one task at a time, shutting down social media while working online for homework or engaging in a conversation.

Fathers must model the behaviour they want to see in their children. If you are asking your child to put the phone down but they aren’t willing to do the same, the child will rebel. More than what you say, it’s how you behave that impacts your children more.

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Tokunbo David
Tokunbo David

Writer and editor.

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