I have gone back and forth on if I should get my daughter a phone. She is 13 and will be 14 in September. I’ve read numerous articles on locking down your child’s phone. All they did was scare me! I actually got to a point where I was not going to get her a phone until she was 18! Of course, that is ridiculous. There are a bunch of reasons to get your kid a phone, and locking down your child’s phone is really good parenting. The only problem is, I have decide exactly what I want to know, and what I don’t want to know, and how much privacy is a teenager actually allowed.
Locking Down Your Child’s Phone
Well, I have her one. She has a nice new snazzy iPhone. I will admit, I truly enjoyed seeing her excitement and helping her set it up. Of course I did some “pre work” putting on some monitoring tools but I am hoping to only use those if I feel the need. As we were setting up the phone I helped her put her friends phone numbers in her contact list. She was very excited about having a contact list. It was at that point I realized ALL her friends had phones and by not giving her one, I was keeping her totally isolated. Being that we are in the midst of Covid-19, she has not had direct access to her friends unless I let her borrow my phone, which really, was not often. I have always understood just how important friends are to a 13 year old but I am thinking I never really understood. I watched as her friends all congratulated her on getting a phone and watched how harmless the conversations were. i kind of felt bad for a minute, but was happy that she was finally getting back in the group of friends that she missed so dearly.
The Bad Side
Not all of this is warm and fuzzy. I expect a lot of arguments and I expect her to not want to get off her phone. It’s her avenue to the outside world. So…we made a contract that she had to sign. She has to have her chores done, reading done, homework done, etc before she can sit down and use her phone. She says she understands, but does she? I guess we will find out! Locking down your child’s phone is good up to a point, but taking it away could mean trouble on a whole different level. I need to be sure we don’t use the phone to control her, or set her off into a teenage tailspin.
Now, let’s get to the elephant in the room…predators! My daughter (like yours) is very pretty. She is also very naive. I am petrified at the idea of a predator talking her into doing something she shouldn’t do, like send pictures, meet up, or engage in inappropriate texting and emailing. Is that enough to stop her from getting a phone? I don’t think so. I have to trust and stay diligent. I put a few monitoring tools on the phone and I can see instagram and a few other applications. In the end, I decided I really don’t want to know her conversations. If I do hear them, I will not embarrass her, I will only use them as teaching moments. I don’t think I am feeling anything different from any other parent with a teenager. We fiercely protect them and the thought of them with access to this outside world is unnerving. But still, I’m going to learn to trust, and let her enjoy being a normal kid. Besides, her mom (me) is a digital forensic examiner so if I need to, I can do a forensic image on it! Creepy huh?
Sheryl Cherico is the CEO of Tier3MD and Discovery Computers and Forensics