Your kids have probably heard the “when I was your age” spiel hundreds of times by now, but they never quite seem to get it. But honestly it’s not surprising that an 11-year-old with a smartphone will fundamentally never understand what it was like to use a payphone or (horror of horrors) listen to a busy signal on the other end.
As a parent, you can’t help but feel uneasy about a kid who can’t even wake himself up in the morning having immediate access to technologies astronauts didn’t even understand when you were his age. But despite this uneasiness, here are three ways your kid’s cell phone does and can make parenting easier than it was for your mom.
It’s every parent’s dream to track their kid’s every move down to the coordinate, and with smartphones, you can! No more “I’ll be at Susie’s, but really at my boyfriend’s” cover-ups that your mom fell for. An iOS app called Find My Kids — Footprints is awesome for tracking “significant location changes” of your kids all day, everyday.
The app even allows you to create “Geofences,” which allows you to set specific boundaries for your kid’s whereabouts, notifying you immediately when these rules are broken. It’s like your tag-along kid sister, only more reliable! The app costs $1.99 for a three-month subscription, $3.99 for a year or $5.99 for two years.
Grounded in the 21st Century
When your mom told you “no phone for a week,” it was pretty easy to tell that you weren’t actually using the family phone based in the living room. With 4G coverage from T-Mobile, “grounded” just means Skyping and Facebooking in their bedrooms on a Friday night.
Even though technology offers a lot more these days (Facebook, Internet, texting), it comes at the expense of parenting advantages like spying on your kids from your Facebook account and contacting them 24/7 to pick up milk on the way home from the store. In this case, parental controls can be your best friend. All major carriers allow parents to set call and text restrictions by time of day, while T-Mobile lets you put a cap on talk and text.
iOS is by far the best choice for when it comes time to ground your child, since it allows parents to easily shut off access to web browsing, video chat, camera, installing apps, sharing local information, and more. The newest iOS 7 even allows parents to automatically block adult content and limit browsing to pre-approved websites.
Beyond all of the ways parents can use smartphones to get their kids to behave, there are also ways you can use these devices to grow closer. From texting throughout the school day “how did your presentation go?” to “liking” Instagram photos of sporting events you couldn’t make it to, smartphones keep you in the loop throughout your busy lives.
Unlike your own mom, who would have to call multiple friends from your landline phone to try to get in touch, you can quickly dial your kid’s number and be in touch right away. Sure, in some ways it’s annoying: now your kids can easily text you to drop off their forgotten homework at school or bug you nonstop at the grocery store “don’t 4get the Pop Tarts!” But mostly, smartphones have made us smarter and more involved parents.
Wikimedia Commons image by Diamondmanga