Children’s relationship with technology begins at younger ages and the mobile phone has become an indispensable piece. In fact, the average age at which minors receive their first phone is below 11 years, according to a recent Unicef study. In addition, according to the latest data from Statista, 69% of Spanish boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 15 had a mobile phone during 2021.
Not only do they start up sooner, but they also spend more time with their terminals. According to a study by the leading platform in online security and digital well-being for families Qustodio, minors spend an average of 711 hours and 45 minutes a year in front of a screen.
Today, families are faced with the challenge of giving their children a good digital education, which can be difficult for many partly analog parents. The moment of giving a mobile to the children can be prolonged, but it is an unavoidable moment. How to do it? From Qustodio, they have prepared a list with 7 key tips to help families ensure responsible mobile use by minors.
1. Learn about the risks of the Internet. The first step is to know the risks involved in the use of technology, a responsibility that falls on parents. Although the advantages are more than evident, the online environment is quite unknown to many parents and introducing minors to it blindly can be dangerous. Cyberbullying is one of the main dangers of the network, something that, according to the company’s latest study, only worries 2% of families despite the increase reflected since the pandemic.
2. Talk things over and reach a consensus. The maturity of children is something important when deciding if it is the perfect time to offer them a mobile phone. Knowing whether or not minors are ready to have a mobile begins with open communication in which an agreement is reached on its use.
3. Set time limits. It’s no secret that technology use has significant negative effects on sleep. To ensure rest, it is essential to prevent the mobile phone from being in the bedroom. In addition, Qustodio recommends avoiding the use of screens one hour before going to bed.
4. Ensure the privacy of the accounts. It is essential to check the privacy of the platforms in which minors are active to know if the publications are visible to the public or simply to family and friends. Experts recommend limiting access and opting for a private profile.
5. Use parental control systems. One of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent minors from accessing inappropriate content or abusing the mobile during the day is to configure an application that allows you to have a certain degree of control over your device. This can avoid arguments and misunderstandings and assures families of their digital well-being.
6. Lead by example. Parents are the referents of children in many aspects, for this reason, our behavior in front of screens must be as healthy as that required of minors. According to the Digital 2021 study by Hootsuite and We Are Social, Spaniards spend an average of 6 hours and 11 minutes a day using their mobile phones, a very high figure that can influence the digital routines of minors.
7. Teach to value and care. It is important that minors understand that the mobile is a tool and not a toy and that its main function is to be able to communicate with them. In addition, these are expensive items, so they need to understand that a mobile phone entails a series of responsibilities that they have to fulfill.
“There is no correct and ideal answer to know when is the ideal age to give our children the first mobile, so more than worrying about when, we must focus on how”, says Eduardo Cruz, CEO and co-founder of Qustodio. “The education and maturity of minors is progressive and different, therefore, accompaniment and communication are essential to guarantee their digital well-being and responsible use of it.”