Mobile phones and tablets opens up your child to uncensored and non age-appropriate material on the internet. What is the best Parental control for Mobile devices? With social media applications like Instagram, Facebook and messaging applications like Watsapp, we are worried about cyber bullying and social media addiction. How do I protect my kids from pornography and the dark side of the web? How do I know if they are ready for such a device?
Best Parental Control for Mobile Devices?
Well, my research about the mobile phone has led me to this … the best Parental Control for the Mobile phone is to …. give it to them as late as possible! 🙂 As drastic as it sounds, will they ever be responsible enough for such a device? After all, it is more than a device that helps you communicate, the Smartphone is like a mini computer.
However, we can’t bubble wrap them from the world and let them live in a Amish community. Eventually, there comes a time when you just need to let go, take that leap of faith and give them the privilege of Handphone Ownership.
Since writing my previous post about how I have decided to give the mobile phone to my eldest girl , she has been reading the blog and bugging me about her mobile phone. Well, she has known that it has been coming for a while and I finally relented after her PSLE.
In the month of December 2017, when we was 12 years 6 months, we took the step of faith and rewarded my eldest daughter with her mobile phone. Yes! We passed down to Nicole, my wife’s old Samsung Note 5 … As dramatic as it sounds, I was entering a new chapter of my parenting journey.
But of course, like what we mentioned earlier, the handphone or mobile device was not gonna come without any restrictions. In fact, we made sure that she earned her way to mobile phone ownership.
Requirements for taking Possession of a Mobile Phone
In summary, besides a Mobile Ownership contract, we got our daughter to take her handphone ownership seriously, We made it clear to her that it is a privilege, and to borrow from “Spiderman”, with great privilege, comes great responsibility.
Therefore, we setup a few tasks for her to complete before the possession of her mobile device.
As a Christian, the memorizing of Scripture or internalizing Bible verses is very important to us. With Nicole approaching a new stage of her life, we found it necessary for her to start progressing beyond Sunday School stories, to have her memorizing her verses. Sure, we should have started earlier, but I think it is better late than never.
Before possession of her mobile device, we gave Nicole 20 memory verses which she had to recite out to us and write out on her notebook. She had to demonstrate understanding on the verses and explain to us the reasoning behind each verse. Well, we did face resistance when Nicole was presented with the task, but when there is a will, there is a way! 🙂 She persisted as the mobile phone was a prize worth aiming for.
Some people have told me…it sounds like a punishment. Well! I think, it is more of how you present the task. I don’t believe in the kids taking the privilege of mobile ownership for granted and therefore it must be earned. Secondly, I would love for them to love the Word of God and memorize for the joy of learning. However, none of my kids learnt their “Times tables” as they were excited about the prospect of learning and acquiring knowledge. Until that day comes, I will need to work realistically and get them to know the right things using a “Reward” structure. (If you are a non-Christian reading this post, you can naturally substitute this with chores).
As our family really values the Word of God, the extension of the privilege does not stop there, in order to maintain mobile ownership, Nicole needs to learn a new Scripture every fortnight. It has been a month since she got her mobile device and I am glad to report that the arrangement is still working well 🙂
Which Mobile Parental Device?
On the market, one does find a lot of Parental Controls that one can install on a child’s mobile device. These Parental devices offer phone blocking, wifi shut-down, location trekking, Web-site blocking, monitoring of messages and the list goes on and on. In other words, everything that you would want in a Parental Control is out there!
Naturally, part of the mobile phone privilege means that you cannot uninstall the application, which I have installed on the phone. If the program is uninstalled, the application will send a notification to Mum and Dad and this will mean a suspension of mobile privileges. We made sure that we carefully informed Nicole on what is expected of her, in exchange of this privilege. (If you have already given the mobile phone to your child, the setting of these ground rules is definitely much harder).
With regard to the Parental Control, we settled on Qustodio. (Nope…this is not a sponsored review and they are not giving me money for this). But, we settled on Qustodio due to it’s friendly interface and because we could survive using the application, without paying for the monthly or annual fee. Yes! Just the basic set-up works well for us. (Check out Mum’s the Word for my wife’s review on Qustodio and other thoughts on this issue). After using it for a month, our only bug-bear about the application is that the app can sometimes be unstable and only 1 parent can monitor the child).
Child Mobile Contract
Besides memorizing her verses, we worked out a mobile contract underlining the privileges and expectations which Nicole must day. Things like internet usage…how often and for how long…when she can use it…we tried to be as responsible as we could in our research.
This is a sampling of our contract:
I know that having a mobile phone to use is a privilege. I respect that my parents love me and want to keep me safe. My parents respect that I am becoming a young adult and want the privilege of having the use of a cell phone. With that in mind, we agree to the following:
- I understand that my parents expect full transparency regarding the content on my phone. They can access my phone at any time, and I must share my passwords with them and notify them if it is ever changed. I will never message or talk to someone and then delete or hide it from my parents.
- Before I join any social media networks, and downloading any app, I will get my parents’ permission.
- I will abide by the data restrictions set by my parents.
- I will respect “device free time” which includes during meal times, when someone is talking to me, and when I am doing homework. I will ensure I will not use my phone while crossing the road or in any other unsafe way. If I am asked to stop using my phone, I will happily do so.
- I will remember what usage is allowed with my mobile plan, and I will not go over the limits of that usage. My parents will pay for the monthly subscription and I will pay for any charges over the limit of my plan.
To download the Parental Mobile contract for yourself, click on the link on Mum’s the Word.
There are no guarantees in life and obviously with Parental controls, every child can still find a way to get his/her hands on non age-appropriate material. However, we feel that it is necessary for age-appropriate restrictions as we need to slowly immerse our children into the real world. We can’t “bubble wrap” our kids, but I believe that we can successfully help our children navigate through the pitfalls of technology.
Giving the restrictions before your child has possession of a mobile device is much easier than doing it as an after thought. If you are doing it later, I believe that a different strategy might need to be employed. After all, every family is different! 🙂