Have you followed my journey on Instagram? I have been exploring tips and resources to help us make an informed decision that is right for YOUR family too! Verizon has a new, kid-friendly plan, Just Kids that accounts for the needs of parents and kids— simplifying the introduction of a child to their first smartphone experience. This blogpost is sponsored by Verizon. My opinion presented in this article is my own!
Is your child ready for a smartphone? If it would be up to my son, the answer would be a full blown YES. What am I thinking… of course HE is ready for a smartphone.
However, I am not so sure. All these questions pop in my head. And especially about his safety and social media. If I am being completely honest. Social Media scares me. And that is a lot, coming from me. Since I have built a business being on social media. ‘Well hello there, influencer. You tell me, you’re scared of social media?’
A phone nowadays is so much more than a device you use to call your parents when you need to be picked up or to call your friends to stay in touch. No, it can be used against you. If you do something silly while being at school, there might be someone that takes a picture and that can hunt you for a long time. There are so many examples available on YouTube. Just look at those ‘funny clips’ that are available online. That is the part that scares me!
How do you decide?
That doesn’t mean that a smartphone hasn’t been discussed. A frequent discussed item is my old iPhone that is sitting idle in our house. I must admit, my son does have compelling arguments.
The other day he asked if he could bike to his friends house, alone. And he added that if he had my old phone I wouldn’t have to come with him or worry so much.
It is interesting how times have changed and I don’t know if they really have or if it is just my perception.
As it turns out, I am not alone in this. Over the past few weeks, I learned that more parents are going through or have been going through this phase.
alexis.ann.adventures “We are going through this same thing right now!”
raising.little.princes “Glad my boys are only four. Not ready for the cell phone stage.”
Some parents wondered how we did this when we were growing up. How did we connect? How did we survive? There was a time that we didn’t have a phone, however in this day and age we can’t even imagine living without one. We adults, feel naked without our phones. Where water and food once were the basic needs for survival. Nowadays, you can add being connected to the internet to that as well. You see, a phone has become so much more.
Another thing to add is, that we are the first generation that is presented with this discussion. Most of us didn’t get a phone from our parents, since phones are so new. Meaning, we have to figure this thing out together with our partners, our kids and our parenting peers. And learning to navigate this together.
When is the right time to introduce a smartphone?
At the same time there is uncertainty over what the right time is. It totally depends on your family and there is no right or wrong here. Whatever works for you. The right time mostly coexists with your child being away from you and the need to be able to contact you. For most families this time comes when children become more independent, like when they start middle school. Some schools use apps to connect with their students to communicate assignments etc. Again, the right time all depends on the circumstances you are in.
I realized during this journey that even though I felt not ready to hand my 10 year old a phone when I started this journey, something shifted. I do want him to have that freedom that he is craving. And at the same time I want to make sure he is safe. I like to know where he is, without checking in on him constantly. Hello tracking option!
A friend asked me what the difference was in my kids using a smartphone or an iPad. And I’d never really thought about that before. My kids do have access to an iPad. And I have set up a lot of limits and parental controls.
So why do I feel so strongly about them having access to a smartphone? I felt the big difference was my presence and me being able to keep them safe. Which meant I have to make sure before giving him a phone, he knows how to properly use it. What is okay to share with others, how do you behave online, which apps are okay to use, where can you use your phone, when is it impolite to use your phone, can you take pictures of others, what to do when a stranger contacts you, how do you recognize a stranger, what to do in an emergency, how do you limit your phone use, how do you stay social, etc. It all boils down to preparing him to be a good digital citizen. And I want to do this before handing him a smartphone.
alldonemonkey “For me it is safety as a main reason. I love that they have a version with built in parental controls! Because sometimes those aren’t so easy to find and set up.”
I learned more and more about the Just Kids Plan and I felt I could let go of that anxious feeling and even be a better parent. Giving him the freedom he wanted and giving myself that piece of mind.
So what changed?
Something happened last month. My daughter didn’t come home at a time she was suppose to be home. She is 18 and has a phone. When I tried to reach her, she didn’t pick up. Luckily I have that tracking option and I could see where she was and I could see she wasn’t moving. So I jumped in my car and headed over to her location. When I arrived I saw she was standing over her bike. She had a flat tire and was really happy to see me.
Now, she is an adult. Ok, still my baby. But this could have happened to my 10-year old.
Verizon offers a Just Kids service plan that comes with parental controls and filters!
I wanted to know more about the Just Kids Plan. So my kids and I went to the store and we asked tons of questions. The people from Verizon were so friendly, they had a lot of patience for my kids and me. My kids can ask SO many questions.
With this plan you can set up unlimited talk and text to 20 contacts. You can set content and limit filters, get location alerts and manage the contacts. All from an app on your phone. Basically they offer everything you need right within reach. If you decide your child is not ready for a smartphone yet, there are other options, like the Gizmo watch. A great option for children who are out and about.
days_of_violet “I never thought my kids would get phones as young as they did. But they have come in very helpful.”
What gives me piece of mind is that I have control over:
- Who my kiddo contacts
- What content he is exposed to
- When he can spend time on his phone
When I started out my journey a few weeks ago I was reluctant. Now I am grateful that Verizon has a plan that is just for kids with parental controls already built in. I never thought that I would consider a smartphone at this moment in time, but I am.
If you have kids that are looking for more freedom too, look here for more information or stop by any of the Verizon stores. I know they are happy to answer all of your questions!