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Hey, this is Mandy and Kim with nextTalk, where we are passionate about keeping kids safe in the digital world.
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More than cyber parenting conversations to connect.
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Today we’re going to talk about something we get asked about all the time. People always want to know when should they get their child a cell phone? It is probably one of our top questions, wouldn’t you agree, Mandy? Absolutely.
0:00:50 – Speaker 1
And when we say cell phone, let’s just define it. We mean a smartphone with internet connection, just to get that out of the way, just to make sure you know exactly how we’re defining it. I would say, first and foremost, you know your kid better than anyone, and this is your family, your choice. Many times, circumstances in a family will dictate. If a child needs a phone earlier, for example, being raised by a single parent, they get off the bus on their own. There’s all kinds of situations, and so let’s not judge each other. This is your family, your choice, decision. But we wanted to give you some principles and like some stages that you need to look for and what you can do in each stage.
0:01:31 – Speaker 2
So we’ve put together three simple phases that might help you think through how this applies to your kid. So phase one young kids playing tablets and using your phone. That’s kind of the phase that we’re in right now.
0:01:43 – Speaker 1
So phase one parents don’t realize, and I didn’t realize, and I don’t want anyone else to miss it like I did is that you’re parenting a cell phone years before they actually get one. So phase one is actually so critical. It’s exactly what you’re in Kim, where your kids are on screens but they don’t have their own individual phone, and so you are setting up guidelines. We’re going to talk about what phase one looks like. Phase two is when you get your child a phone And then after that you’re going to be adding in social media. So we’re going to talk about what that looks like in phase two.
0:02:18 – Speaker 2
And phase three is aging out, which we just did a show on. It’s great Check it out when you can about that process of you. Set up all the guidelines, you’ve walked through it, you know you’re doing all the things And there’s a point when your kid is actually going to need to take over the responsibility for themselves. You can’t be standing over their shoulder for the rest of their lives. That would be weird. So how do we do that? How do we set them up for success and help them age out?
0:02:44 – Speaker 1
So phase one, let’s talk about this. And this really starts when your kid is little, and I am thinking like toddler. you know when, when your toddler walks into the bathroom and has a phone or a screen. there are teachable moments in that that often we miss because we don’t realize we’re in phase one yet, but your kid is on a screen. So great teachable moment is to say Hey, you know, we don’t bring screens in the bathroom because what if you accidentally took a picture of mommy without clothes on? Oh, we don’t ever take pictures with anyone without clothes on. It’s like you just planted a seed against sharing nude photos And you’re doing that as a toddler. you’re not over exposing them to anything. But when we recognize this is phase one, then we actually get in there and lay some groundwork, which is amazing.
0:03:34 – Speaker 2
It’s a really big phase for having to kind of check yourself. I’m just going to be honest Am I texting or calling or doing anything with my phone while I’m driving? Do I have my phone out when we’re sitting at the dinner table and I’m half listening to the conversation, half looking at my cell phone? Am I doing things that I wouldn’t want my kid to do once they got their own cell phone? So I think that’s a big thing. It’s setting up the guidelines, yes, in conversation, but even more than that, it’s those examples of how we are interacting with our cell phone during this phase one.
0:04:09 – Speaker 1
This phase one will really determine how well your kid does with a phone. It sets up so much and I missed so much of this phase. It’s like the preventative piece And I’m so passionate about helping parents see that now because with my younger one I got in there and I did it, and so transitioning him to a phone has been way easier because I see the benefit of it. Couple things we did in this phase one, like you mentioned, set up some general guidelines And, just like you said, it’s not just setting the rules but actually modeling it for them as well.
0:04:42 – Speaker 2
So we need to say here they don’t have their phone, So these are things that apply to a screen or gaming or something that has a screen.
0:04:51 – Speaker 1
Absolutely So. No screens in bedrooms or bathrooms. No tablets in bedrooms or bathrooms behind closed doors is really what we’re going at there. No tablets at meals, like meal time is for family time and for conversation. No downloading of new apps. Your three-year-olds should not just be going to the apps or downloading whatever they want. So you set this guideline in place now, and when they do get a phone when they’re 12, 13, however old they are it’s like standard operating procedure that they ask you before they download. This is what we want.
When they were little, we had a guideline report anyone in a bathing suit or less. That does not mean we think bathing suit pictures are bad, but as they play games and they’re interacting online, even as young kids, they may see something inappropriate, and so this is just our threshold, so they know when to tell you. Reporting anyone being mean reporting any words you don’t know. These are simple things that, like two and three-year-olds, can do. What does this mean? You know when they start reading and there’s a new word on the screen that they don’t know, a big one is report anyone dating, kissing, getting married.
I had this guideline in place before my son got his own phone and he was playing a bunny app game, rated four plus, when an ad popped up and mature disclaimer here, turn it off if your kids are listening. There were two men in bed together, naked, and there was a lady standing over them and it said in a talk bubble oh my goodness, you’re cheating on me. What should I do? You run away crying or join in for a threesome?
And he was nine and he was playing a bunny app game that I had vetted, that I had played with him, that I thought was safe, but our guideline of any kissing, dating, of an alarm, went off in his brain. There’s, there’s two people in bed together, you’re naked, i need to tell mom. And so that guideline helped me create some conversation around that. And as you do this, you’re gonna I mean, kim, i know this you’re building trust. You tell me all the time. Oh my gosh, my kids have told me 15 things today that were inappropriate, that crossed our guidelines, because they’re on, like you said, roblox, they’re on their tablet.
0:07:12 – Speaker 2
I call this the waterfall stage too, because once they realize they can really trust you with telling you anything and everything which is what we want And you set up these guidelines, those two things collide and create this waterfall effect where they begin to tell you all the things that you’ve asked them for, and sometimes, as a parent, that can be a little bit overwhelming and you’re like, my goodness gracious if I hear one more thing. But, guys, this is what you want in this phase. You want them to feel comfortable telling you all of that, and that’s preparing them for the next phase.
0:07:44 – Speaker 1
And the more they tell you, the more you stay calm And the more you say thank you for telling me. Listen, even if it’s not really porn, but it’s a person dressed really skimpy, don’t diminish it and be like, oh, that’s no big deal, it’s always. Thank you so much for telling me. I can really trust you on this screen because you’re coming to me and telling me when these things pop up that that we’ve talked about And as they get older, you’re gonna, you’re gonna feel okay, i can trust them more.
I think we’re moving in the direction of a phone. I would say most kids want a phone around fourth or fifth grade. I know it gets earlier and earlier all the time. That is not when they should get social media, no, but I think they’re they’re they’re, they’re wanting that independence And so again, this is your family, your choice. Couple things that I would say. One is just don’t give them a phone for Christmas or whatever. You need to catch them reporting something to you. Okay, and this may be the, the hundred hundred thing they’ve reported to you. I know, kim, you’ve been telling me your kids are reporting and reporting and every time you’re praising them.
So what I did is I went to my husband when that happened and I said Hey, they’re telling me every day these things are seeing online. So I’m thinking that a phone may be in our future, but I want to wait until something pops up And then I can say because you told me this, i’m going to reward you with a phone now. So I found an opportunity to actually empower my kids to tell me more about what they’re seeing online. And that’s when we gave them a phone And that was my husband and I looking at this. And then when they came to us, we were ready because my husband and I were on the same page. He was like yes, i agree So and so told me about this app and talking through that. And so you’re both on the same page and you’re ready to give your kid a phone, but you’re doing it at a moment when they’ve done something really awesome And they’ve told you something they’ve confided in you about something they’ve seen online.
0:09:48 – Speaker 2
And remember that this phase one is over time. You know it starts really young and this is something you’re working up to. So the reward for many years is the praise and is letting out that kite string. So when you do shift into that reward of the phone, it’s like wow, it makes a huge impact. And then you’re going to go into another phase where it’s going to be the reward of social media or more freedom on their phone. So it’s segmented and it grows with your kid.
0:10:16 – Speaker 1
Yeah. So when you interface to, you know, when you have those discussions with your husband or spouse or whatever, and you’re talking through, i think they’re almost ready. One thing you do need to ask yourself Am I ready for this extra work? You’re going to have to do random phone checks. You’re going to have to follow them on social media. You’re going to have to be logged into their accounts. You’re going to have to do all of that. That’s part of this digital parenting thing.
The second thing is it goes back to that phase one stuff that we just talked about. When they see bad words, picks, anything on a digital device, do they report it to me. Listen, if you are in phase one and they are not reporting anything to you, they are not going to get a phone because they are seeing stuff, they’re just not reporting it to you. So this is extremely important. If you found something hidden on a tablet, do not give them more freedom on a phone. We need to get all those kinks worked out first. We need them actively reporting to you every day what they’re seeing online before they’re going to get more freedom. We’ve used the kite string illustration before. I will use it again. Once they earn more freedom. Put the string out When there’s problems, reel it back in When you enter phase two. That is getting your kid a phone. So all these thresholds of phase one have been answered and you’re going to get them a phone.
Now, when they get a phone, it is not a free for all. They’re not downloading social media. No, social media at first. They need to have a time period where they’re FaceTiming, playing approved apps like Bunny, app games or whatever, pick, collage, whatever But no social media at first. You’re monitoring their texts. They’re going to be communicating a lot through text because they don’t have social media. People are going to be cussing in there. There’s going to be inappropriate content. Are they coming to you or are you finding that on your random phone? check If you are finding deleted text, they are not confiding in you. Then they don’t get social media. It’s the same process in phase one. They have to be reporting things to you before they get that first social media account, and only one social media account at a time. Once you implement that phone. They don’t have five to manage all at once.
We did a show on Instagram. That was my kid’s first social media. Go, listen to that. And also I want to say TikTok. That is social media. You can correspond with strangers on there. They can follow and like and comment. That is social media, so be careful about that one. We did a whole show on that, but it’s an iffy one For me. You don’t get TikTok until you’re older, and I can trust you.
0:12:54 – Speaker 2
There’s just so much to think about, and I think that’s something we really want to encourage you is this shouldn’t be an overnight decision. Like we said, phase one is a long process during that time as you see them doing things. This is the time to prepare yourself for the job you have ahead of parenting your kid through a cell phone. And when you make that decision and you’re thinking about social media and all of that, there are some things first that you need to implement, like a cell phone contract. We offer a free one that Mandy put together. That’s fantastic. You can edit it for your family. All you have to do is text cell phone C-E-L-L-P-H-O-N-E-2-4-4-2-2-2. We’re gonna give you the guidelines, we’re gonna give you the contract to use with your kids so that you guys are on the same page from day one.
0:13:36 – Speaker 1
And let me also add that’s a cell phone contract. But when you’re in phase one of the toddler you can do a media family contract And so you can use some of those talking points. So, even if you’re in phase one, still text that number, get those guidelines and you know, maybe it’s putting it in a chalkboard in your kitchen or whatever, where you’re all talking about. These are our screen guidelines, these are our media guidelines. This is what you’re setting up in phase one. Don’t wait until phase two to get a contract And then, since the first time they’ve ever had any screen guidelines, that’s not gonna work And that’s the way most of us have done it. That’s how I did it. So we’ve gotta get in there and do the groundwork before they get a phone.
0:14:18 – Speaker 2
Okay, so let’s talk a little bit about settings. I mean they’re different for different devices. I mean we need to certainly set them for our tablets. We even set them on our televisions, because now our televisions are like giant cell phones with all the apps. But what about phones specifically? What would you say, Mandy?
0:14:34 – Speaker 1
Yeah, so you’re in phase one and you are setting up parental restrictions on the devices that your kids are using. So you’re doing all the right stuff. With phones, set up their restrictions. Apple has great ones under screen time if you go there And you can actually set movies, music to like PG. So set all of that. It’s password protected. Don’t give that password to your child.
One of our rules is, you know, they can’t change passwords. They can’t change parental controls without approval. That’s on that cell phone contract that Kim mentioned. So all of those things are extremely important. But listen, there are loopholes with all of the parental controls.
So the main and the first line of defense is your kid telling you when something bad pops up, because many times it’s gonna be popping up on another kid’s phone and your restrictions aren’t gonna catch that. So that’s key. You know and this goes back to phase one and why it’s so important? Cause you’ve created this culture where you’re already talking about it, so that carries on into phase two, when they have a phone. Phase three is, you know, when your child is 16 plus and you’re preparing them to leave the nest, you may let the kite string out even more. So some of the guidelines that you had in place when they were two. They may go away and you may celebrate it and you may say you’ve earned this.
Right now We have a whole show on that. I really don’t wanna spend a lot of time on this today, but it’s called The Aging Out Show And I go into detail with my about my 16 year old what restrictions have kind of changed and what have stayed the same, so you can go listen to that show for that And that show will help you too, even if you have younger kids, like our restrictions at you know, three and four year old on their tablets, or their screen time has changed as they’ve aged, you know, or preparing them for a phone eventually and to be on their own.
0:16:29 – Speaker 2
So that show will help you in all areas of your kids growing up in a digital world. So phase one is when your child first starts using technology until the time they get their own phone. This is where true foundations are built for cyber parenting. And phase two it’s when your child gets a phone until about the age of 16. This is when they’re earning one social media platform at a time. as they get older, you’re gonna be letting the kite string out and reeling it back in as they make mistakes and as they do good things. This is a total process, so stick with it. And phase three this is when your child is age 16 plus. You’ve built trust and your child may start aging out of some of your guidelines.
Transcribed by https://podium.page