I have been having an inner tug-o-war trying to decide whether I let my older kids have a phone yet or not. On the one hand, I want to be able to get in touch with them! One by one, their friends parents are losing their land lines, so it’s getting harder to track them down. On the other hand, there are so many reason I don’t feel like my kids are ready for a phone:
- I fear they will access inappropriate images
- I’m afraid they will text and drive.
- I’m afraid they will be on their phones during school.
- I worry they’ll be texting their friends all night and never sleep!
- I worry that they’ll ignore the living world, and stare at their little screens all day and night.
But as parents, we can’t put a bubble around our kids and not teach them to use technology appropriately. It is our job to teach kids how to live in the world successfully. So, I decided to give in and let our 12 year old have a test run with a phone! She was thrilled to say the least!
We tested the new family safety features that Sprint offers with a Samsung phone (which caused me to say over and over, “How did I ever live without this phone?!”) Sprint obviously checked with parents with concerns similar to mine in developing their family safety features. Their programs for checking on your kids and setting controls are perfect! I was able to see what they were doing on their phones and when, but I also few in a few surprise human phone inspections to keep them on their toes.
Features of Sprint Family Safety
Concern: Where are you?
Solution: This is my favorite feature of all- you can know where your kids are at all times! How comforting is that??
Concern: You want to have family dinner and interact humanly and not digitally.
Solution: Lock their phones! I love this! You are still the parent. You teach them boundaries and then slowly ease off.
Concern: You want them to sleep, and pay attention in school, and not be playing the latest games on their phone.
Solution: Controlled access times! You are the parent, you set the controls.
Solution: Couldn’t get a picture of this, because we were driving!! LOL. But, the phone really did lock up when we were in the car!
Concern: Chatting with people I don’t approve of or at inappropriate times.
Solution: You can see who they are chatting with and when. This is actually the control that my daughter failed in miserably! We noticed she was at a slumber party, with fun girls, in person, and she sat in the corner texting people who weren’t even there! We were so disappointed, but it gave us a chance to talk to her about it and challenge her to do better, or leave her phone home if she’s at a party like that again.
Now if they can create something that will allow me to READ their texts, view their pictures, and check their browsing history, the surprise human phone checks will be unnecessary!
These safety controls don’t take away a parents responsibility. It actually makes you more involved and simply provides a parenting tool practical for today’s kids! It helps you to be even more involved with what they are doing so you can teach them, train them, and hopefully send them off equipped to deal with the problems of our day.
Disclaimer: we were provided 2 phones with temporary service to try out the parental controls by Sprint. We were not compensated in any other way for this post. All opinions and excessive texting on the part of my tweenage daughter are our own.