Many families now find it necessary to purchase a mobile phone for their kids. I realize there is much debate on kids and smartphones. This isn’t a post addressing that topic. Rather, I want to give parents who do choose to give their child a smartphone tips on making their child’s mobile phone kid friendly.
It’s important to put some safeguards in place when you set up a mobile phone for your kid. Being able to monitor content for kids, to make sure they aren’t exposed to inappropriate content, is important.
I want to note, monitoring always goes hand in hand with communication. Please don’t use filters in lieu of communication. Or worse yet, be tempted to use spyware on your kids and avoid communicating with them all together. Filters are meant to help your parenting efforts. They are not meant to parent for you.
Setting restrictions on cell phones is not complicated or hard. It doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. In fact, it should be something we automatically do as soon as we pull a new device out of the box. Seriously! It’s that easy. It’s an easy step we can take to help our kids avoid some of the porn and adult content not meant for their eyes.
Here are 2 easy and necessary ways to put healthy boundaries in place for your child’s mobile phone usage.
- Set a family media plan for mobile devices.
This should include downtimes for all devices and all family members’ cell phones. Consider establishing a nightly device charging station where all cell phones and devices are docked for the night. And be sure to discuss your family’s expectations for usage and content for cell phones. Be very clear so kids understand the boundaries. Have family discussions about when and where it may and may not be appropriate to talk and/or text. Having open, casual family discussions creates an atmosphere where healthy conversations about technology become the norm.
- Use the restrictions built into the mobile phone and build out from there.
iOS is super family friendly when it comes to restrictions. To adjust the default setting, which is “explicit,” you’ll need to first set up restrictions for the phone.
To Turn on Restrictions for iOS
Tap Settings > General >
Then Tap Restrictions >Enable Restrictions
You’ll be prompted to set up a Restrictions passcode. It’s important you make this pin something you remember, but one your child doesn’t know. If you forget your Restrictions passcode, you need to erase the device, then set it up as a new device to remove the Restrictions passcode. Unfortunately, restoring the device using a backup won’t remove the Restrictions passcode.
Now that your passcode is set, you can Enable or Disable Restrictions on the iPhone.
Select Enable Restrictions. Select the features you want to allow. Then scroll down and select the ratings for content.
Your child’s iOS phone is now set.
I love Android devices. I’m an Android girl. And, I love the flexibility Android smartphones give me. That said, Android smartphones are not as intuitive or easy when it comes to setting up parental controls for your kids. The Android lover in me wants to tell you they are, but I’d be lying. However, it is possible to make your child’s Android smartphone kid friendly. Let’s look at your options.
Restricted profiles aren’t available on Android phones running any version of the OS. Restricted profiles are available for Android tablets, but not Android phones. It’s a bit confusing, I know. You can, however, create a separate user profile for your child on phones running Android 5.0+. This doesn’t allow restrictions. It just sets up a 2nd account and limits that account from the main account’s emails and texts.
Now you need a way to set up restrictions. Your option is to set up restrictions in the Google play store for the user profile you created for your child. There is also an option there to prevent them from making purchases without consent. This is a great option if your main concern is content for your child. And keep in mind, you can install a child-safe browser.
So, you can protect young eyes by removing the Chrome browser and installing a kid friendly browser. Using this method, you can make Android devices kid friendly.
To Set Up a User Profile in Android
Add a new user from the Users screen in Settings. From the Settings menu, you’ll see a small gear by the newly added profile. Tap the gear to toggle calling and texting on and off. Since this is your child’s phone, it’s assumed you’ll want to leave these options on.
To Set Up Restrictions for a User in the Google Play Store
Pull the navigation drawer from the left to access the Settings screen within the Play Store, and then scroll down to user controls.
From there, you’ll have access to media restrictions based on rating. You can limit app and game downloads by age, as well as restrict movies and TV shows by rating, music with explicit lyrics, and books with sexual content. All you’ll need is a PIN number to lock access to the setting and you’re all set.
Taking a few moments to put some safeguards in place when you set up a mobile phone for your kid is worth it. First take some time and decide if an iOS or Android cell phone is the best fit for your family. Then dive in and explore the parental control options available for the mobile phone you select for your child. And, be sure to have open discussions regarding content and healthy boundaries when it comes to their mobile phone usage.