Even though Jenelle has had a Smart Phone for about 6 months now, I still always ask myself if it was “too soon”. Most of her friends have had phones for years so if you ask her, she probably thinks she had to wait too long. Today we are going to talk about determining if your teen is ready for a phone. Disclosure: I am part of the PTPA Brand Ambassador Program with TeenLimit and I received compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.
Is Your Teen Ready for a SmartPhone?
Can you afford it? That's the next important question to ask. I knew Jenelle would use a ton of data on her phone, so I opted for the unlimited plan on her phone. Besides the initial investment of the phone, she now has a $75 phone bill each month. She works some of it off, but the reality is it's still my bill. If you don't have an extra $50-$100 each month, your teenager is going to have to do odd jobs for neighbors or maybe babysit for your friends… they'll need to find a way to fund their phone each month!
Is your teen responsible enough? Sure, you can get insurance on their cell phone but it still costs upwards of $100 to replace it. Plus, the insurance is an extra expense. Is your teen responsible enough to keep track of their phone, and not leave it behind at basketball practice or at a football game? Are they responsible enough to keep it in their backpack (or pocket) so they're not dropping it and shattering the screen? I bought Jenelle a sturdy phone case because I know how easy it is to drop a phone and break it. I told her if she shattered the screen, she'd be working to replace it.
Do you trust your teen? Answer this one honestly! Have they ever given you a reason not to trust them? This is the toughest part for me because while I do trust Jenelle, I don't trust the rest of the world. I don't necessarily trust her friends at school (I don't know them, so it's not a personal thing I just … don't know them). I don't trust the internet or the people on it. Even though I'm pretty public with my blog and our lives, I still don't trust what she might come across by accident.
I downloaded the TeenLimit App as part of the program I'm participating in, just to check it out and to share my thoughts with you guys. As I've shared in the past, even though I trust Jenelle, I am still going to monitor her phone usage. I don't do this in a sneaky way. I'm 100% transparent and will even pull the app up on my phone to show her what I can and can't see. If you have trust issues with your teens, this is a great way to be like “Hey, I'm being transparent. Your turn.”
Obviously as they get older it's more difficult. Right now Nell is only 15 so she doesn't go many places and she's still very open when it comes to communication. At least I think she is. Who knows with teenagers, right? I try my hardest to be open and honest with her and to leave the lines of communication wide open so she knows she can come to me when she needs to talk. I remember being a teenager, and in fact I was Jenelle's age when I got pregnant so I remember it all too well.
We have talked about oversharing on social media, though she doesn't have anything except musical.ly, it's still possible. We have had issues in the past with bullying on Facebook so that is not something she needs to have right now. Oh, and we had an issue with Snapchat because she decided to hide a post from us. That was gone instantly. The thing is, parents these days don't always know the ins and outs when it comes to social media, SmartPhones, etc. That's where apps like TeenLimit come in.
TeenLimit allows you to choose which sites your teen can visit on their phone, and how much screen time they're allowed. Obviously saying “only use your phone one hour a day” would be nice but time gets away from all of us so a gentle reminder of how much time they should spend is nice to have. TeenLimit can block apps, and if for some reason your teen is on lock-down (hey, it happens to the best of us) you can basically turn their phone into a text and phone calls only device. That'll get their attention. Trust me. ;)
Is TeenLimit free? There is a free parental control app, which must be downloaded on your kid’s device. This app lets you limit the time your kid spends on his Android smartphone or tablet and manage allowed apps. The Premium app works as a complement to the free app and provides more features (remote control, internet filtering, geolocation…). You can try it 10 days for free, and then for $3.29 a month for up to 10 devices.
It's easy to use the TeenLimit app because you install it on your phone and monitor remotely. You don't have to go snooping through your kid's phone to get the details on their activity, which is nice. With the app being only $3.29 a month, it's definitely worth every penny for the peace of mind it provides. If nothing else, it helps open the lines of communication and encourages your teen to be more open with what he or she is doing while online.
I like to use apps like these to have open conversations with Jenelle about the dangers of online activity, and the consequences all actions have. Take one photo, share it with one friend, and all the sudden it's viral. It happens, and if you make the wrong choices it can have a major effect on your life for years to come.
You can't prevent all bad things from happening, and there's no such thing as a perfect parent (or child!), but apps like TeenLimit help bridge the gap. Download the app and let me know what you think in the comments!