Teens and Smartphones: Five Rules to Live By

Most teenagers today have a cell phone. Many parents find that cell phones are the easiest way to communicate with their teenage children. If you’re planning on purchasing your teenager a smartphone, it’s important that you lay down the ground rules ahead of time. Here are five things you should do before a phone hits your child’s hand:

Remove the Ability to Text and Drive

30 percent of teenagers have admitted to texting while driving, and 50 percent of teens have admitted to talking on the phone while driving. Car insurance for a teenage driver is expensive. Car insurance for a teenage driver after an accident can be astronomical! Removing distractions from your teen will help them establish safe-driving habits early on.

There are two reliable options for parents who want to keep their children from texting and driving: tXtBlocker and Drive Safe.ly. tXtBlocker costs $6.99 per month and eliminates texting capabilities for smartphones that are in motion. DriveSafe.ly is a program that reads text messages aloud as soon as they are received, reducing your teen’s need to take their eyes off of the road.

Restrict Location Sharing

Social media sites like Facebook and foursquare have integrated check-in features that post your child’s location every time they sign into their account. Insist that your child not check-in from anywhere when they are on their own. Make sure that your teen understands the dangers that checking in with strangers can pose!

Insist on Tracking Services

It’s understandable that your teen wants to spread their wings and enjoy their independence. It’s also understandable that you want to know where your teenager is and if he or she is safe. Before you give your child a smartphone, insist on installing a location-sharing app like Glympse. These apps allow you to track your child’s smartphone and your child, assuming that they are with their phone.

Set Talk and Text Limits

The easiest way to limit your child’s use of their smartphone is to add a second line to your plan. While some parents choose to buy their child a prepaid phone, it is actually more cost-effective to add the second line. If you are paying for your child’s monthly plan, having one with limits will eliminate the risk of an unexpectedly large bill full of overages.

Insist on Wi-Fi

If you don’t want to get hit with data overages, insist that your child stay on Wi-Fi whenever it is available. Wi-Fi is free and won’t eat into your child’s data minutes. Establish a rule that your child makes sure that they are connected to the Internet before downloading apps or playing games. Install an app like 3G Watchdog to keep an eye on your teen’s daily data usage and set the app to warn you when data is running low.

Smartphones are not only a great way to keep in touch with your teen, but these phones are also a perfect way to teach your child about rules, responsibility and safety. Add a second line to your account, eliminate your child’s ability to text and drive, and utilize the phones GPS to keep tabs on your child’s whereabouts. By establishing ground rules early on, you’ll help to ensure both your peace of mind and your teen’s safety.