Allowing tweens mobile phone devices in school/ home has been a heavily debated topic for the past few years. There are two camps to this debate. One side feels that they are too young to be able to properly control the usage of this electronic equipment while the other say they are old enough to be responsible. Many experts too have weighed in on this issue and their opinions are also divided.
Many parents main concern is that their kid would abuse the use of the mobile phone and neglect their studies or be exposed to unsavory characters online which may prey on them if they are on their mobile phone. These parents believe that their child is not prudent enough at this age to make their own judgement on what is right or wrong.
What is the right age then?
There is no “model answer” for this question however there are many things that one has to consider before a mobile phone can be issued to your child.
Here is a list of question to ask yourself .
- Has your child exhibited that he is able to take care of his/her own belongs properly?
- Is your child pro-active in informing you about his/her daily routine especially if there are any sudden changes in it?
- Is he/she aware about cyber bullying, sexting, pornography and gambling online ?
- Does your child understand that there are many online child predators and how to guard against falling victim ?
- Will he/she know about online privacy and to keep his/her detail confidential while being online on various social media platforms?
- Do they know who to seek for trustworthy information if he/she runs into questions while being online?
- Is your child able to respect and follow rules that you set for mobile phone usage?
- Does your child know how to keep his phone virus free and in a good condition?
Do your children have mobile phones?
Yes they do. In fact all of them have been having their own mobile phones since they were in primary school. The youngest had her mobile phone given to her when she was in Primary One. She travel from school to home by herself independently via public transport and had to be contactable.
The main reason why the kids were given mobile phones was to ensure that we can always reach each other . Being a single mom I have to make sure the kids can get me and each other easily.
What I did with the kids
Back then I made sure the kids understood all the different functions of the mobile phone. They also learnt how to safe guard themselves while being online before they could have their hands on a mobile. They had to prove that they DESERVE a mobile phone before it was given.
Initially I install net nanny type of software in the boys phones when I gave it to them. It backfired big time. The boys were able to hack in and unlock all the restrictions on YouTube and internet that I have placed!! In the end I gave up and removed all the phone monitoring software that I had installed prior. I found that the more I wanted to restrict their usage the more they wanted to challenge my authority. They were constantly testing my bottom line by their actions. They were constantly stress and annoy me with their hacking skills. Removing restrictions actually turned out for the better. When the kids new that I didn’t want to battle them on this they were able to self-regulate and control their own usage without having me interfere in their daily usage. We are still working on preventing excessive usage/ reliance on the phone though!
Having a mobile phone is more of a need than a want nowadays. This is especially so with the mandatory use of Safe Entry requirements for entering all buildings. Scanning of the QR code is a must and definitely less dangerous then flashing your identify card around.
If have notice when you are out the public phone is non- existent now. To be able to contact anyone one would truly need his/ her own mobile device. Luckily a mobile phone is not too expensive nowadays and there are many reasonable packages which one can choose from.
Currently the kids are on add -on lines on a SIM- ONLY package . They have a 30 GB package data with Caller- ID. This works out to @$25/kid a month. By choosing such a package our monthly household mobile bill is an affordable $100/month.
Now that both boys are in secondary school, a lot of school information is disseminated through google classroom or google meeting. They too need to participate in online Whatsapp chat groups and even zoom calls on a regular basis therefore the need for a sufficient data package for use.
Tiger girl who is still in Primary school is not so reliant on the mobile phone. She chooses to bring her mobile phone out only when needed. Necessary information is disseminated through the Parent’s Gateway and it is easy to use the phone in the general office if needed.
Will the kids abuse the use of the Mobile phone in school?
The secondary schools that the boys attend have very strict mobile phone usage policies while they are on the premise. For Doggie boy’s school they have a medicine cabinet within the classroom which has individual slots for each student. Every morning the mobile phones are collected by their form teacher and lock within the glass cabinet before lessons start. 5 minutes before school ends the same process is repeated in the reverse process.
In Monkey boy’s school there are individual lockers for each student where they will have to keep their mobile phone in during class time.They will only have access to their phone during recess and when lessons end for the day. At the end of the day it is still dependent on your comfort level if you decide to issue your child a mobile phone.
In the last installment of this series I will be touching on Emotional Guidance for Tweens/ Teenagers.
Posts in the series
-Surviving the PSLE (Part 1) – Streaming
– Surviving the PSLE (Part 2) – The Science Exam
–Surviving the PSLE (Part 3A) – The English Exam
-Surviving the PSLE (Part 3B) The English Exam