My Son Oliver’s First Mobile Phone and How I Keep Him Safe
We all worry about our kids’ tech time and now that my son, Oliver, 9, has got his first mobile phone (lucky kid-mine was a BIG OL’ BRICK at the age of 16), it’s vital I’m in control of his usage and feel able to protect him at all times.
Thanks to Carphone Warehouse and Nokia who are promoting the must-have Family Link app, I honestly feel comfortable and happy about him having a phone (and I wasn’t sure that I ever would).
The Family Link app encourages healthy digital habits thanks to its safeguarding features which allow you to feel reassured about your child using a phone.
The app is incredibly useful as you can locate your child if they get lost in the park for example, and it allows you to manage and pre-approve what they consume/buy, and how long they spend online.
Oliver and I were kindly gifted a mother and son matching Nokia 7.1 phone and a Nokia 3.1 several weeks ago which immediately saw us put the Family Link app to good use.
There are of course, understandably concerns around children having phones, with the fear of too much screen time, access to inappropriate content, stranger danger, spending, and online bullying and thankfully the Family Link app addresses all of these, ensuring children get the best out of tech while parents and guardians can keep them monitored and safe.
We both like the security a phone brings and the fact, if needed, Oliver has a way to contact me or anyone else, in an emergency. He recently got lost in the play area of a hotel we were staying at and was able to phone me instantly. Phones can also be stimulating, educational and fun.
Oliver loves messaging his friends after school via the multiplayer game, Roblox, and he equally enjoys Doodle Maths, an educational app he requests to work on, every single night (no joke).
He is only 9 though so requires an education in positive phone use and this is where the Family Link app comes in.
It is connected to both of our mobile phones simultaneously and allows me to stop any apps being bought without my pre-approval, or content viewed without me validating on my own phone first. These useful notifications which pop up when Oliver tries to watch/buy allow me to approve or block apps from the Google Play Store and manage in-app purchases. I can even hide apps from his device thanks to the Family Link app, and all from my own phone.
What I love most about the app is that it allows me to help Oliver make healthy decisions on what he does on his device so he becomes autonomous. The app supplies me with activity reports showing how much time Oliver has spent on his phone and he’s often surprised at what he says feels like 5 minutes online is actually 20!
It also offers me teacher recommended suggestions for apps which is helpful as finding suitable apps for children can be a minefield.
I also set screen time limits during the week via the app, as well as placing the phone into bedtime mode when it’s time to switch off and rest. I can also lock Oliver’s phone to prevent him relying on it to much, and do so when it’s time to play outside, do homework or have dinner together.
Oliver is only allowed to play on his phone once a week during the school week (usually on a Wednesday for 1 hour after school) and for 2 hours (staggered) on a Saturday and Sunday. The Family Link app allows me to manage that schedule and change it if I need to, too: ie a long car journey or flight.
Again, this teaches Oliver about the importance of balance and digital breaks-something we parents could do with too.
So, I’m taking note and now I have this simple and effective app to help me manage Oliver’s online habits, I have more me-time to enjoy a cup of tea, and less time stressing over Oliver’s phone use.
The only problem now is that Alexander, 6, wants a phone too! Argh!
Have you used the Family Link app yet?
This is a sponsored post but as always my views and experiences are honest.
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