Growing up in a homeschool household, my parents had two approaches for giving us kids a phone. One, getting a really old outdated flip phone, or two, no phone at all. I chose no phone over a flip phone because I didn’t want to stand out amongst my friends with a weird device. Was this a good decision by my parents to give me no phone, was it a bad one? Here are the top things I think every homeschool parent should know before giving their kid a phone.
- Technology is a tool. Lots of parents are terrified of technology because of all the negative connotations connected to it. All the horrible things a child can find on the internet, all the scary people that child can contact, and so much more. What homeschool parents fail to realize is that technology is so much more. It is a tool meant to assist us in our daily lives. I know a bunch of homeschooled kids who are constantly borrowing phones, getting lost and needing this tool, but due to the negative side of technology, the parents decided to not get a phone for the child. If we change our view and see technology as a tool, I think it makes the rest of these steps make more sense and should encourage parents to have a different mindset on phones.
- How to Teach Technology. Set an example. If you are a homeschool parent who is constantly on your phone, you can not expect your child to not want to always be on the phone as well. I think we should teach technology to kids the same way we teach bike riding to kids. Start them out on training wheels, and slowly introduce them through a safe environment. We can’t expect someone who has never practiced riding a bike to use it properly when they turn 18, and it's the exact same with phones. Parents should equip their kids with a practice phone and show them how to use it responsibly.
- Healthy Tech Relationships. Establishing a healthy relationship between the phone, the parent, and the child, is one of the hardest things to do. Before giving your child a phone, prepare for the conversations you are going to have around it. Make sure there is an open and honest conversation around the phones.
- How to Establish Boundaries and Rules. Explain to your child what rules you have, and why you have them. Telling a kid something without a real purpose is just confusing to them. Being the parent that is open and honest about rules and boundaries will do wonders for your relationship with phones and your kid. Even if your reason why is, “I would just like to be safe, or know what is going on.” it is still better than nothing.
- Scheduling. Establish times of day that certain things are allowed to be on the phone. Start by explaining and setting restrictions, and slowly lose the restrictions and see if they keep that healthy habit. Such as no gaming at school, no phones at the table, and other phone manners you might have in your family.
- Mentorship and Positivity. As a parent, your child is going to come to you for advice on how to use technology and how to live life. If you break a relationship with your child, they won’t come to you anymore, which is why you need to be a mentor with positivity. Of course, as your kid grows up you need to be firm on them with your rules and decisions. But all too many times I see homeschool parents not understanding how to come alongside a child and walk them through something like a friend.