Back in the day, when one owned a mobile phone an entire village would now. It was a privilege just to hold a mobile phone leave alone owning one and only a few had access to it. Lucky are those who came from a well-established background for they were the first ones to have access to mobile phones.
The mobile phone was only for the adult and kids were not allowed even to touch it. But looking around at this century more kids have access to mobile phones than adults. You enter a Bus and everyone is glued to the small screen on their hands, not caring whom is seated next to them.
You get home from work and the entire household is either glued to the telly, a laptop or the mobile phone. And when greeting them, out of 5 people in the room only 2 will respond.
This gets even worse when a kid is involved. When you hand your child their first mobile phone, you’re giving them an incredibly powerful communication tool. Not only can they send messages, create images and send videos to friends, but if they have a smartphone, they’ll also be able to access websites and upload images and videos online.
They could also access inappropriate material. It’s not uncommon for children at primary school to have phones, an average age for a child to have their first phone is at least10 years old, although many parents wait until their child starts secondary school at the age of 14.
There are instances when a child might need a phone. For example; when they are just starting to leave the house on their own or make their own way to school some parents will feel reassured if they do have a phone.
If you decide that your child having a mobile phone is beneficial, there are a number of steps you can take to reduce the risks that they might face online. For example, try putting a password on the phone’s app store this will help prevent them from installing apps without your knowledge. If they want to install a new app then you should research it first to make sure it’s appropriate for them to use.
There are also parental controls you can put on children’s handsets to prevent them from visiting inappropriate sites and keep them from sending texts or making calls to unknown numbers. And for any application, there are applications that are child friendly, for example a child will use Youtube Kids instead of the normal Youtube, this will help to control what they access online.
Perhaps most important of all is to have a conversation with the child outlining exactly what they can and can’t do on their phone and why. Explaining to them gives them a better view than leaving them with question leading them to discover even worse. They should also understand that nothing is private online. The Internet never forgets.
- By Miriam Jomo
- Children and Technology
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