A cell phone is more than just a way to make phone calls and texts – these days, the average phone offers access to the entire internet, as well as an array of apps, games, and other functions. As a parent, this can be tricky territory to navigate. You may be tempted to take your child’s phone away, either to protect them from online dangers or as a method of discipline when they misbehave. But that can backfire on you. Take a look at some reasons why taking your child’s phone away is not necessarily the best choice, and why monitoring it might be a better plan.
What’s the Problem With Taking the Phone Away?
Your teen may use their phone to socialize, but it’s also their connection with you.
There are a couple of reasons why taking your child’s phone away might not be your best bet. For one thing, it’s surprisingly easy for children and teens to get around the loss of a smartphone. Some children will simply remove the SIM card from their phone before turning it over and insert it into an older, unused phone – if you don’t have an old cell phone sitting in a drawer somewhere in your house, the chances are good that one of their friends does. And even without removing the SIM card, your child can download a texting app onto an iPad or another tablet, or use instant messaging apps on the web, essentially giving them the functions of a phone on another device. Unless you’re prepared to take all electronic devices away, removing a phone often isn’t that effective.
The one thing that taking your child’s phone does do is put them out of contact with you. With a cellphone, you can reach your child when they’re away from home at a moment’s notice. You can even track their location using the phone’s GPS service. This is a safety issue as well as an issue of maintaining contact. Pay phones are nonexistent in many public places these days, so if you want your child to be able to call you when they need you, it makes sense to allow them to keep their cell phone.
How to Monitor the Phone Instead
Parental monitoring may not sound like a good idea to your child at first, but they’ll prefer it to losing their phone entirely.
Not wanting to take your child’s phone away entirely doesn’t mean that you have to leave them unprotected. Monitoring your child’s phone can be a good alternative to removing the phone. Monitoring allows you to keep an eye on your child’s activity and on who is contacting them. That way, you can put a stop to any dangerous behavior or inappropriate contact before it gets out of hand.
Monitoring your child’s smartphone activity shouldn’t come as a surprise. Talk to your child about how you’ll be monitoring them and why. Reassure them that you’re not spying on them, just ensuring their safety. Some children might be resistant to the idea at first, but they’ll be even more upset if you surreptitiously add monitoring software and they discover it later. Remind them that it’s your job to keep them safe and that this is your alternative to removing the phone.
Parental monitoring software like Webwatcher can help you keep an eye on your child’s online activity, even remotely. To find out more about how Webwatcher parental monitoring software can work for you, get our free trial.