This post is a sponsored collaboration with Verizon; all opinions are my own.
Our family is very tech-savvy, and we like to keep connected and up to date with technology. Last year, we made the big decision to get my daughter a cell phone. She had been begging for a phone for years, and we had to figure out our plan as she was in 5th grade and nearing middle school.
We came to this decision to get my daughter a cell phone based on the amount of time she spent away from home, which included three nights a week at swim practice, going to friend’s houses after school, and staying after school multiple days a week. We knew we could have better peace of mind if we got her a phone, with some guidance using the Verizon Wireless Family Tech initiative.
I know that getting a phone for your child can be a very difficult decision, so here are some great reasons to get your child a phone.
~ You can monitor when family members arrive or leave designated places with the Verizon Family Locator app
Once my daughter had her phone, we had much better peace of mind right away – and one of the biggest reasons was that we use the Verizon Family Locator on our phones to track her any time.
I set up the Verizon Family Locator app as soon we got my daughter a phone, and it has been incredibly useful for middle school and so much more.
The app allows us to track a cell phone, and I also have it set up so that it send me notifications when my daughter gets to school and leaves school, leaves home and arrives home, etc. Not only does it let me keep track of her whereabouts, but it can be a reminder for me as well that she is headed home, or that her bus is running late.
This tracking features is so useful, I even have other parents asking me where the kids are! (Has the late bus left yet? Did the bus get to school yet?). There was an incident where there was a small fire at school, and before the school even had a chance to notify the parents, I had gotten a notification that my daughter had left, and I was able to track her bus to the local high school where the kids had evacuated to.
As a busy parent, the tracker makes my life easier in general. Let’s say my friend takes the kids to the movies. I have been able to check to see when they are headed home so that I can be home or squeeze in a quick errand or get dinner started.
~ Mix and match with Verizon’s wireless plans
It helps to have different choices from your wireless provider, and Verizon lets us choose plans that work for us. It’s nice to choose the features we need and also be able to adjust as needed, especially when we use a lot of data. Plus, we have added on an iPad with wireless data and plan to add on a fourth cell phone for when my youngest is in 5th grade.
~ You can manage screen time
Just because your child has a phone does not mean it opens up a door for limitless screen time, apps, social media, and so on.
While my daughter’s phone has so many useful features, we do have to manage screen time. This is probably one of the biggest things that parents worry about when they get their child a device, and screen time is one of those things that drives me crazy.
You can limit your child’s online time.
You can limit your child’s online activity.
We do this in several ways. We take away the kid’s devices at certain times – this can be when they get home, before bed, for a day, for days, so on. My daughter takes her phone with her almost any time she leaves the house, but it can be a bad habit to use the phone for too long, so we monitor the amount of time spent on the phone, and her online activity. When she wants to install an app, she has to send a request through the App store that is sent to our phones so that we can review (and approval requires our password). You can set up apps and programs to monitor what your kids do with their phones, from the phone numbers they call to the apps they use.
~ Establish rules, or even a contract
Giving your child a cell phone means that they have to be responsible for it, and also for their actions. In our house, this means random checks to see what the kids are using, and I go into all the apps and check things out. As a parent, it is my job to know what is going on.
Cell phones can mean bad habits – so set limits. In our house, no cell phones at dinner or when we go out to eat. Sometimes it means waiting patiently, because we don’t want to create bad behaviors (like the kids only behaving and being quiet because there is a screen in front of them).
Check out the Verizon Family Tech initiative here.