With children taking a break from school this week during half-term and the days getting shorter and darker, many parents may be thinking of giving their kids a mobile phone. Mobile-sim provider Lebara have teamed up with child psychologist Dr. Amanda Gummer, to run you through how your child can use their phone responsibly while helping you and your children stay connected.
Some apps have tracking devices and built-in alarms, keeping children feeling safe, especially on their commute so it’s very important that we know where they are. With the clocks turning back in October, children may be walking home in the dark from school, making tracking apps a safe option for parents to monitor their children’s whereabouts during the winter months.
Stay in touch
Circumstances can change and sometimes parents aren’t able to pick their children up from school due to work commitments or emergencies. Allowing the use of phones in primary school for children allows them to keep up to date with their parents on any pick-up arrangement changes.
Avoid flashy handsets
Although your child may want the latest handset to stay on trend that they can flaunt to their friendship group, it’s best to start them off with a cheaper handset than splashing out on a brand new one. Whether it be an old handset of yours, or a cheap smartphone that still lets them use tracking apps, you’ll be better off than buying something thats expensive to replace if lost, damaged or stolen.
If you cave in and end up buying your child an expensive phone – try to avoid a long contract with no way of cancelling if the phone is lost or stolen. Buying sim-free allows you to shop around for the best sim-only deals on the market, that have shorter contract times. Lebara’s sim-only deals can be cancelled at any time and start from only £5, so if your child’s phone is lost or stolen you won’t have to worry about contract cancellation fees.
Playtime over screen time
Child psychologist Dr. Gummer notes that “Children learn best through playing, so this is a helpful way to practice these valuable skills. Through pretend play, competitive games (like sports, and card or board games), and a mix of playmates, you can give your child the opportunity to copy and carry out these good behaviours as part of a healthy balanced play diet.”
Children need physical play with other children to help learn valuable skills that will help them in later life. Making rules such as no phones during break times will allow children to develop these skills. At the weekend, encourage active and sociable use of phones – get those til Tok dances going. Giving them down time when there’s an obvious end time such as a club or a mealtime will help to prevent battles over switching it off.
Pick a Pay as you go mobile plan
Once a few children in the class have a phone, your child may feel left out if they don’t, especially if their friends tend to keep in touch and make plans using texts or instant messaging. Make sure to pick a cheap data plan that can easily be cancelled if the phone is stolen or lost. Lebara offer cheap sim-only deals starting at just £5 that includes 1000 minutes and texts with 2GB data – more than enough for them to stay in touch with their friends and their parents.
Secondary School, University and beyond
Many of the same rules apply to secondary school as primary school. Although you’ll want to give your children some freedoms when it comes to using their phone during this time as many parents will most likely be paying their child’s phone bill, you can still set rules and boundaries to screen time, the handset they have and their data plan.
When your children head off to University, the rulebook they’ll be used to following at primary and secondary school regarding phones is ripped up. It’s really now up to the student to when and where they use their phone, and while studying for a degree they’ll hopefully not be browsing social media during important lectures.
However, there are numerous ways that students can utilise their mobile phones to assist in their studying:
With lectures returning to in-person after the pandemic after a year of digital learning, it’s always a good idea to record or video your lectures. This will help with assignments as the year goes on as you can re-visit past lectures to help with your studies.
Create a to-do list
Put the notes system on your phone to good use rather than shopping lists and your banking details. If you have an exam coming up or an assignment due, create a to-do list with what you want to achieve that day and hold yourself accountable to getting each task done.
Utilise your calendar
You can use your calendar to your advantage rather than using it to remember your parent’s birthday or when your student loan comes in. At the start of a new term, note down the important dates for your modules in your calendar and set multiple reminders to make sure you don’t forget. The last thing you need is pulling an all-nighter because you’ve forgotten you had an assignment due the next day.
Make money with your phone
Being a student can be tough and with the increase in food bills and fuel, the student loan might not stretch as far as it did 5 years ago. Lebara have an excellent Refer and Earn deal, that allows you to earn up to £50 when you refer a friend. Referring your family, friends, classmates and flatmates could get them a £12.50 sim-only deal for the first 3 months with unlimited data, texts, calls and 100 international minutes while you make some cool cash. The best part, if your friends want to change or cancel their deal later on, they have the flexibility to do that anytime!