As children grow into middle childhood and beyond, they often develop interests and begin activities that take them away from home and your watchful supervision. With cell phone technology, it’s possible to keep track of your kids, even when they are not home. Your child’s cell phone can even enable you to monitor activity that might occur under your own roof.
Communicate rules and expectations with your child about her cell phone so she understands the requirements for having one. Monitor your child’s cell phone use. Know your child’s password, examine contact lists, text message and email history and Internet usage, if applicable. Make a rule about your child keeping her cell phone on and answering your calls and text messages promptly. Connect specific consequences with your child for not following rules or adhering to expectations to institute a complete system of requirements and consequences.
Monitor your child’s usage of the cell phone regularly to stay attuned to how he uses the device and what he does.
Check your monthly cell phone account summary to learn about specific usage. Check text message activity such as the number of messages, the timing of the messages and the message contacts. Look at the amount of data your child used. If you see large data usage, your child might be using a smart phone for online gaming or video viewing. If your child misuses the cell phone, institute a promised consequence.
Call your child when she’s away from home, to stay connected. Require your child to call you when she gets to a destination or when she leaves one location to travel to another.
Use a tracking program with your child’s cell phone to keep track of both cell phone activity and her whereabouts when she’s not home. Some cell phone providers offer tracking services as a part of a family plan, or you might need to pay an additional fee to have this service added to your plan. If your cell phone provider does not offer a tracking service, purchase a separate program such as Mobistealth, which tracks both activity and location, or AccuTracking, which tracks location only.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has not released a specific recommendation for an appropriate age for giving a child a cell phone. Instead, the AAP recommends that each family must weigh the reasons for a child having a cell phone to determine whether a need exists.
Many tracking programs require the “trackee” to provide permission for tracking. Ensure your child enables tracking and agrees not to disable it.