Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Mobile Phones and Parenting

When is the right time for my child to have a mobile phone?
  • Mobile phones play a key role in ensuring pupil safety travelling to and from school. Young people need phones to be able to communicate with parents to arrange pick-ups or to keep them informed when the buses and trains are running late. They afford a degree of protection to the lone traveller and thus give reassurance to parents. Once your child is involved in after-school clubs, particularly ones that involve pick-ups after it has got dark, it makes sense for her to have a cheap, basic phone for emergencies.
  • There is no doubt that parents come under considerable pressure from their children who argue, in time-honoured fashion, that “everyone else has got one”. As with other areas, such as parties, curfews and alcohol, parents need to establish good lines of communication with other parents, so that they are not all played off against each other.

What about 3G mobile phones with Internet capability?

  • The problem with phones that have internet connectivity is that young people immediately have unrestricted internet access. On the positive side this will enable them to look up useful information and to support their learning. However, it also means that they will be able to get onto social networking sites, such as Facebook.
  • Mobile devices with Internet capability [either through dialling up or through Wifi] are here to stay – indeed they are going to be ubiquitous. We will not be able to restrict what our chidlren are doing with them, so we need to ensure that they are cybersafe and need to educate them to use them wisely. Parents need to consider if their child has sufficient maturity to make positive use of a phone with internet capability, whilst avoiding the inherent dangers and temptations.

Do pupils use them too much?
  • Young people love chatting – they always have. Many of those of us who are now parents sat for hours on the family phone chatting to our friends. Today young people just have more ways to chat: talking face to face, texting, on their mobiles, on MSN, on Facebook and so on. The most significant difference is that, rather than chatting in the relatively public place at the bottom of the stairs, it is all much more private – away from parental eyes and ears. What is interesting is that young people communicate much more now by the written word than ever before.

A few final thoughts:
  • The best way for parents to retain a degree of control over their child’s use of their mobile phone is to limit the amount of credit that he/she has on his/her phone. A package that has unlimited number of texts, may appear attractive from a financial perspective, but it does give a green light to your child to spend an enormous amount of time texting.
  • Pay-as-you-go contracts are best for young teens. Ultimately they give you greater control over your child’s use of the phone. If the phone is in your name and you top up with small amounts at the time, you will monitor how much your child is using the phone and also be able to have regular conversations about his/her phone use.

This blogpost was based on an article written for the GSA MyDaughter website

1 comment:

  1. I think it's also worth considering the degree to which students should or could be using mobiles with 3G in school as part of their formal learning.

    We might find that by encouraging students to consider their smartphones as smart tools for learning, by accessing school content, for example, that we can set standards for best practice, that challenge the notion that social networking is the only reason to go online via a mobile.