Smartphone. If you could start afresh what would you do?

(23 Posts)
lightupowl Mon 24-Oct-16 09:26:12

DD is nearly 13 and will get her longed-for smartphone for Christmas. We basically have a blank slate in terms of boundaries and usage as she is our oldest child.

My question for those of you with more experience than us is, if you could go back to day one of your dc's life with a smartphone, what ground rules and boundaries would you put in place?

One of DD's younger siblings has difficulties which mean that we have had to almost completely avoid screen time and media use at home. DD is not totally naive, but does not have much experience beyond WhatsApping on the family mobile from home with her friends. Neither do we.

Are there any good online courses about social media safety for teenagers? We've done our best to educate her ourselves - the school doesn't cover that here - but want to be sure that we've not missed anything. We're expats but I suppose that the issues are similar everywhere. Thanks.

OP’s posts: |
Haggisfish Mon 24-Oct-16 09:27:19

Charge it downstairs overnight.

MabelSideswipe Mon 24-Oct-16 09:35:06

I would not buy a smartphone. We swapped our 13 year old's smartphone for a Nokia. He isn't like it but came around and it a more pleasant and engaged kid now.

lightupowl Mon 24-Oct-16 10:16:15

Mabel This is kind of what I was dreading and suspecting. DD is almost the last in her peer group to have one, so although I don't like it I feel like we should at least try it. The other girl who doesn't have one is getting one for Christmas too, then DD will definitely feel excluded.

OP’s posts: |
MabelSideswipe Mon 24-Oct-16 10:24:35

Yes I know that feeling as my daughter who is 11 is the only one of her friends without one and she is really cheesed off about it. Our experience of the negative impact on.our son though makes me determined not yo give in. Some kids can handle the addictive spect of he couldn't. With my daughter, I worry about social media more. I want home a safe space away from peer politcs.

DocMcFanjo Mon 24-Oct-16 10:44:44

Watching with interest.

Helenluvsrob Mon 24-Oct-16 11:14:25

do not get a contract . Not even a capped one. Watch the SIM only " 12 month deals" too.

there are many contact cock ups documented on MSE where apparently competent adults don't understand the details of their package and run up huge bills, so we can't expect a 13hr old not to.

Giffgaff with monthly goody bag is a great safe choice financially for teens. You can top up early to reinstate allowance, or they spend the rest of the month on P+G terms.

I would never buy an expensive phone for a teen either. If you buy a sub £150 phone you can get much of the same functionality as a top android phone but it's not so much a mugger magnet. If the phone is lost/stolen then it's a pain but not a disaster.

Get an iphone on contract and it gets lost /stolen/broken you are paying that contract till it is done, even though you might not have a phone.

Phone insurance is a slippery bugger. eg not covered if left unattended ( eg in school locker, or bag at the side of classroom ) not covered if you allow someone else to use it ( and that may even mean that you the parent pay the contract , do your DD isn't covered when it's in her possession). If you need to insure, house insurance is probably a better bet.

and that's before get to net safety ! The phone is a computer. If you won't let them have a laptop at 2am then the phone needs o be out of the room too. Be the adult. Keep the cyber bullies out of their safe space and don't give then the opportunity to send sex texts /watch porn etc

Above all know wat they are doing, understand the phone settings etc.
THere was a poster on here who's child ( sub teen IIRC) was using up a 4gb data allowance and getting a bill. that sucks, but the worst thing- mum had no idea how far 4GB goes and what she might be doing on the phone ( IMHO 4gb is HUGE data allowance for a teen, they are either streaming or uploading a lot of video on that, and what videos would they be using it for that they don't use home wifi for...... if it's not something they shouldn't be watching I'll eat my hat! )


NinjaFeminist Mon 24-Oct-16 11:19:24

Which smart phone is it? I ask as I've only had limited experience of Samsung & more experience of Apple. So I'm 'well versed' on parental controls with the iPhone but couldn't get to grips with the same on a Samsung.

This link has loads of info re online safety and loads of other useful advice. This is good for info on social media your DD might want to use but you might not know much about/use yourself etc. I don't use any social media so needed that to understand more about what DD was asking to use as 'all her friends' use them hmm I've refused her social media so far but it's getting harder to maintain that as all her friends are using snapchat, Instagram, Whatsapp, YouTube, Twitter etc.

My DD has an iPhone 5c & the one thing I'd do different is make sure I'm the one to set everything up for my DD - her dad did it when she bought the phone & it took me for ever to get all the parental control stuff sorted as I didn't have easy access to her email a/c he set up for her. I have very tight parental controls & regularly check her history to make sure she's sticking to the rules & so far she's not once done anything or looked at anything that's a concern.

Definitely having phone downstairs for charging overnight. I also have a rule that screen time ends 1hr before bedtime, & screen time is only allowed after homework/chores done etc. DD isn't allowed to have phone numbers of people she doesn't know - if a message comes through without a name, if she can't tell me who it is I block it. That's hasn't happened often but they do collect numbers when they go to groups/camps/classes etc. & gets out of hand v quickly.

NinjaFeminist Mon 24-Oct-16 11:37:33

I'd also agree with the comment about buying a smart phone brand new on contract. 1st one ideally should be 2nd hand - DD saved her pocket money to buy one 2nd hand & it's a PAYG sim. Giffgaff is a good option, especially with the Internet usage.

lightupowl Mon 24-Oct-16 12:35:27

Thank you Helen and Ninja. Great advice there.

Will definitely have a good read of those websites.

Ninja it is a Samsung, unfortunately.

OP’s posts: |
NinjaFeminist Mon 24-Oct-16 13:16:01

I can't really advise on parental controls for Samsung - I've always used Apple & DD's 1st phone was her dads old Samsung & I couldn't figure out the controls. She only had it a week til her dad smashed the screen so I never got the chance to figure it out. Hopefully someone will be along to help with that.

Howlongtilldinner Fri 28-Oct-16 23:10:54

Doesn't matter what the smartphone's the work of the devil for young teens. My DS is now 18 and I remember him being 13 and his dad allowing him an iPhone.

He has very little social skill and can be insular unless among his peer group. It's unfortunate that you have no choice but to 'allow' them to have such technology.

Rewind 5 years and I would have done it very differently.

notquiteruralbliss Sun 30-Oct-16 21:05:12

Insist on AppleCare or similar? Main issue we have had is with smartphones being drowned / smashed / otherwise rendered unusable. thry quickly become essential but are incredibly fragile.

BG2015 Sun 30-Oct-16 21:58:22

I would take it off her at a suitable time and charge it in your room.

Don't let her take it to bed.

9troubledwaters Sun 30-Oct-16 22:09:48

Charge downstairs overnight & make it a condition of having the phone that you can check it at any time. At 11 its not something theyre allowed to be secretive over. Mine don't have fb , insta any of that.
WhatsApp, spotify & games only.
Games only after homework & max 1 hour.
I disagree about contract. They have second hand iphones with a waterproof shatterproof case. Payg cost me £10 a month so switched to a £7/ month capped contract

muckypercy Tue 01-Nov-16 13:29:58

If you can avoid it for another year then do! If not then I'll second the "No phones after 9pm" rule. Up until 16 my daughters always had to hand phone and laptop over by 9 on a school night. The youngest, now 13 will often hand hers over earlier if there's drama at school that she wants a break from. The unrelenting stream of bullshit that starts at sun up and finishes Dog knows when is astounding and can be overwhelming. Poor little things really have nowhere to hide when it's their turn to take a pounding... Imho kids need at least an hour away from screens before getting their heads down.

JustWoman Tue 01-Nov-16 13:58:56

My dd is 11 and she's had a phone from about 9, my old one goes to her Dad, then gets passed to her. But she's only reall started using this year since starting secondary.

I think I'm lucky with her as I've not had to be strict or be hard with rules re screen time, she's used the family PC since about 18 months old and is very aware of safety, of in app purchases etc and won't even cross a pop up off without checking with me first. She only has people she knows in real life on whatsapp and tells me if anyone tries to contact her (one if her friends from school tried adding her and even though dd was sure it was her, she wanted to check with me first) she's allowed to download free games without asking, but she won't, she prefers me to check them first, as she knows porn can sneak in on pop up ads in the the most innocent of free games sometimes.

She leaves her phone downstairs overnight by choice, but sometimes takes it up if her dad is working away, he usually sleeps downstairs so figures if someone broke in to house he'd beat them up, but when it's just me and her she feels safer with phone in her room in case of fire etc. if she was playing on it at midnight it would be removed.

There was a thread about checking teens phones recently and it looked like a lot of people said it was snooping, but while I haven't needed to check on her, I have every password set and notifications etc for her sent to my email. She knows this and wanted it that way.

Also, while she knows not to talk to strangers, I've told her that if she ever feels like she's out of her depth with someone, or if she does chat to someone she shouldn't and they cross a line or ask her to do things then she should still come to me, she shouldn't feel she can't say anything to her dad or I for fear of punishment as I just want her to be safe.

You can monitor what they type into google search and youtube vids they've watched etc by logging into her gmail account on another device and going to google settings.

Dd is on three and we out 10 pay as you go credit on every 30 days and then use that to buy a bundle which gives her internet, texts and calls. There are some good pay monthly sims that you can pay month by month without a contract too.

You can make rules now but let your dd it's trial and that rules can be changed depending on how it goes, so if you met her have it in room shell know it can be stopped, or if you let her start with small amounts of screen time, once you know she can be trusted in can be increased.

Kids change as they get older so while I fell dd is good and self moderates brilliantly now, I know it coukd change and she could become sneaky or look at content I don't want her to, not just porn, but pro annorexic sites etc, it's a privilege she could lose and she knows it.

Also, rather than buying new, you could get a better pre owned model for same price at places like Grainger games. You get guarantees on what they sell etc. dd is wanting a newer one for Christmas (she currently has my ancient iPhone 3) and I think I'll get pre owned.

JustWoman Tue 01-Nov-16 13:59:42

That got long. blush

I love talking about this stuff can you tell smile

crispandcheesesanwichplease Tue 01-Nov-16 15:06:27

Personally I think that 13 is too young for that kind of phone. I don't really care if my DD is the only one without one. It's opening the doors to a whole lot of stuff that most kids this age don't have the maturity or impulse control to manage very well. I've heard too many horror stories about young teens being nasty to oneanother, contacting inappropriate people online, and viewing extreme porn. (I don't mean in the media I mean kids within her friendship group) .

It isn't compulsory to have one and although I'm sorry my DD feels a bit left out I'd rather that than give her something that I think she hasn't the maturity to manage. I know I'll have to give in at some point but even another year or 2 will mean that she has better skills and maturity to handle it.

griffinsss Mon 07-Nov-16 13:53:12

Charging downstairs overnight is a great rule for anyone, especially teenagers. We actually keep ours in a locked box in the wardrobe because we live in a flat and don't have a downstairs. I put mine in their too (on loud in case of emergencies). Teens will use their smart phones into the early hours of the morning as will I.

As for social media; make sure she knows that people aren't always who they say they are on the internet (get her to watch the show catfish for a less frightening reference aka. Dating not just murderers or criminals) and to never share any information online if she wouldn't want everyone she knows to see it (words, photos, whatever). And that likes and retweets aren't validation for her self worth. At 13, I'm sure she's capable of working out the rest, but it's up to you as the parents to make sure she's safe obviously.

LeeAndMatt Sun 13-Nov-16 21:02:13

With 20/20 vision, I think 13 is too young for a smartphone.

We gave our 14 year old (as he was then) a smartphone for his birthday, and all sorts of trouble ensued. Within months he was hooking up with random girls off facebook for sex, hiding his phone in his bedroom, stealing and borrowing other phones when his was banned for a few days after he ignored the device use rules, and he'd turned from a cheerful pleasant kid into a sullen, mouthy teen who knew everything and was not respectful of other's needs.

Our rules for our other 3 kids now are, they can have a smart phone when:

- they can afford to buy it themselves, from money they have EARNED (not saved with pocket money, but earned with a JOB)
- they can pay the bills by themselves (and must do so)
- they can pay their share of the wifi (i.e. if there are four people in the home, they must pay 1/4 of the wifi bill)

Until then, they get a button phone ie Nokia or similar, which we're happy to pay for and cover the bills for smile

As far as usage rules go:
- no devices in bedrooms or private areas (this includes toilets and bathrooms - our teen was wrapping his phone in condoms and texting in the shower YES really!!! sad
- no devices before schoolwork and chores are done
- no devices before they're completely ready for school in the morning
- device use finishes an hour before bedtime.

Apparently Taiwan and China now both charge parents who allow their kids too much screen time, and other countries are looking at putting guidelines in place. This is a good article:

I'm a software engineer, and I'm starting to think teens should NEVER have smart phones.

allegretto Sun 13-Nov-16 21:06:55

My 12 year old has a smartphone and luckily, so far he is not addicted - doesn't even take it out with him usually. However, it is annoying that he really does need Whatsapp so a smartphone has become essential. Even his scout group only communicates via whatsapp - a bit ironic as they can't take phones with them to scout camp! I agree with not charging in the bedroom overnight. I also took the internet browser off his phone (but can't seem to do that with the android he now has unfortunately).

megletthesecond Sun 13-Nov-16 21:14:04

Interesting to read this. DS is 10 (year 5) so this is looming in the long term. He has the most basic phone you can get, doesn't even have a camera. In my ideal little bubble I'd like to keep it that way until he has finished secondary school. The risks of bullying, porn and excessive social media seem too great a risk with a smart phone.

We had a chat when he complained about not having an iPhone hmm but the penny did drop when I said about kids being mean with phone photos or looking at scary stuff. He seemed happy that he could potentially swerve all that nonsense.

But maybe I'll have given in in 2/3 years. I hope not.

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